The first nuclear power facility providing electricity to the U.S. power grid is nearing the final steps of dismantling.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed in Dec., 2019 to fully remove the SM-1 Reactor Facility at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, and remove any remaining structures and equipment.
Opened in 1957, the SM-1 nuclear reactor primarily trained nuclear operators and technicians, approximately 800 personnel throughout its life. It was decommissioned in 1973.
The Army Corps of Engineers began dismantling the plant over 40 years ago when they removed a majority of the radioactive material, including nuclear fuel, control rods and radioactive waste. Those materials were taken to a storage site in South Carolina.
After deactivation, the SM-1 facility was used as a museum in the 1980s to highlight the Army Nuclear Power Program before it closed.
Remaining buildings include the reactor plant as well as many labs that were on the site, which will all be removed along with any radioactive contamination exceeding regulatory level.
The USACE said in a statement, “We want to take this opportunity to emphasize that safety is the team’s number one priority for this project.”
The Army Corps of Engineers reports that there is little to no danger of radioactivity on the site once the facility is removed.
An environmental assessment determined that the site had no significant negative impacts and the land would have unrestricted use when returned to Fort Belvoir.
The project will now go out to bid and is expected to begin in 2021 with an end date of 2025 in mind.