Start of dismantling of the Belvoir nuclear reactor


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin dismantling the Fort Belvoir nuclear reactor in November, according to Brenda Barber, program manager for the Baltimore District Corps of Engineers.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin dismantling the Fort Belvoir nuclear reactor in November, according to Brenda Barber, program manager for the Baltimore District Corps of Engineers.

A $ 71.6 million contract for the works has been awarded to APTIM AECOM Decommissioning LLC of Alexandria.

The Army SM-1 reactor, which designates medium-power stationary status, was shut down nearly 50 years ago, and Barber said the residual radiation had diminished enough to begin dismantling.

“In May 1973, we took the site to a safe place. We have removed all nuclear fuel and liquid radioactive waste, ”said Barber. “We performed an initial cleaning of the surface soils on the site to make the site safe to be stored for a period of time to allow the radioactivity to decay. Now we can come back and safely perform the full decommissioning and dismantling of the site. “

The work to be done includes installing a new fence on the site and installing a temporary power supply so that “we can make sure the building is ‘cold and dark’ and make sure everything is turned off. Barber added. “We also need to install all of our ambient air monitoring systems around the site and then do the initial site preparation, which includes installing all of our storm water controls. We have to cut down some trees on the site, then we will start the demolition in early 2022. “

According to the Corps of Engineers website, the SM-1 was a pressurized water reactor delivering 1,750 kilowatts of electrical power. It was the first nuclear reactor to supply electricity to a commercial power grid in the United States, in 1957.

The SM-1 reactor operated from April 1957 to March 1973, managed by the US Army Engineer Reactors Group, and it was mainly used to train the multiservice crews who would operate the various plants in the program.

At a community town hall in Fort Belvoir on September 28, it was predicted that work over the next few years will generate considerable truck traffic along Gunston and Totten roads, with around nine shipments going out each day.

Barber estimates a completion date of 2025, when the site will be cleared and landscaped, ready for any use the military deems necessary.


Paul Lara covers the military rhythm. Reach it at plara@insidenova.com



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