Westinghouse to decommission experimental Alaskan nuclear plant

2022-08-12 11:08:49 By : Mr. Gavin Lee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chose Westinghouse to decommission and dismantle the mothballed SM-1A nuclear plant at Fort Greely in Alaska.

The $103 million job is expected to take six years to complete, with work expected to begin in 2023.

SM-1A was a single-loop, 20.2 MW-thermal pressurized water reactor that used highly enriched uranium dioxide fuel to generate 2,000 kW of electrical power and 37,850 pounds of extraction steam per hour. The design was based on the concept of the SM-1 reactor at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a prototype for stationary medium-power plants.

Construction began in 1958 and was completed in 1962. It was shut down in 1972 as it was more expensive to operate than a diesel plant.

Much of the reactor’s primary system components were dismantled, and components inside the vapor container were encased in concrete and a mixture of grout, soil and sand. Waste generated during the initial deactivation activities was placed in the spent fuel pit and waste tanks pit. These pits were then filled and capped with reinforced concrete.

Located around 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, SM-1A’s primary mission was to supply electrical power and heating for buildings and facilities at Fort Greely. It was also used as an in-service test facility to understand how the equipment would function in an arctic environment.

The plant was also used to study the economics of operating a nuclear plant as compared to a conventional oil-fired system in a remote setting, where fuel costs are high and refueling logistics are challenging.