The decommissioning and dismantling of the Deactivated SM-1 Nuclear Power Plant at Fort Belvoir took one step closer to reality this month when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, awarded a $67.98 million contract to joint venture APTIM AECOM Decommissioning LLC of Alexandria.
The process for selecting a contractor took over two years and was comprehensive which gives the SM-1 team a high degree of confidence that the A2D team will be able to get the job done in a safe and efficient manner, officials said.
According to Fort Belvoir, the decommissioning contract includes all aspects of the project, including the removal of all reactor components, transportation and disposal of the material and site cleanup and restoration. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team will work with the decommissioning contractor to ensure all aspects of the project will be done safely.
"The Army Corps has worked diligently to award the contract for this very complex and challenging project," said Baltimore District Commander Col. John Litz. "Our radiological experts have safely executed projects like this in the past, and our team of trained professionals will use proven techniques, precautions and engineering controls to prioritize and ensure the continued safety of our workers, installation community and public."
From 1957 until it was shut down in 1973, nuclear technicians from all branches of the military trained at the SM-1 facility at Fort Belvoir. SM-1 was partially decommissioned from 1973 into 1974, which consisted of the removal of the majority of the site's radioactivity. This included the removal of nuclear fuel and control rods, minor decontamination, shipment of radioactive waste, sealing of the reactor pressure vessel, and installing appropriate warning signs and monitoring devices.
The majority of SM-1's remaining low-level radioactivity is within activated metals and components of the reactor system, which are all secured within the walls of the facility's containment vessel. During decommissioning, work will be completed within containment, and all material will be properly packaged before leaving the site. The property will be restored for future use by Fort Belvoir.
Crews are expected to begin mobilizing in early 2021, and the work is anticipated to take approximately five years to complete.
The SM-1 at Fort Belvoir is one of at least three identified deactivated reactors, along with the SM-1A at Fort Greely in Alaska and the MH-1A that was aboard the STURGIS barge which is currently in the late stages of decommissioning in Galveston, Texas.