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Almost 50 years after it was shut down, Military releases plan to eliminate Alaska’s first and solely nuclear energy plant

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A number of the SM-1A’s radioactive parts that weren’t eliminated are sealed and entombed within the cylindrically formed vapor containment tower at left. (KUAC file photograph)

The Military Corps of Engineers has issued a doc that outlines plans to decommission and dismantle Alaska’s first and solely nuclear energy plant — the outdated SM-1A at Fort Greely. The Corps has scheduled two conferences for subsequent week to speak in regards to the draft environmental evaluation, and it’s encouraging the general public to touch upon it.

Military officers shut down the SM-1A in 1972 after 10 years of operation and partially dismantled and mothballed the power till they may determine what to do with it. The Corps of Engineers now proposes to take away what’s left of the outdated energy plant in a draft environmental assessment launched final week that the company will share with the general public on Tuesday in Fairbanks and Thursday in Delta Junction.

“We needed to ensure that we have been internet hosting the conferences in Fairbanks and in Delta, to be able to attempt to encourage extra public participation,” mentioned undertaking supervisor Brenda Barber.

The draft environmental evaluation examines the impacts of dismantling the power, a complex project that can take years to finish, based on Barber, who heads up a group from the Corps’ Baltimore workplace that’s been finding out whether or not and the best way to dismantle and take away the rest of the nuclear energy plant.

“We’re focusing on a mobilization to the location within the April of 2023 timeframe, with a goal completion date of 2028,” she mentioned in an interview final week.

Earlier than the SM-1A will be dismantled and eliminated, parts of Fort Greely’s operational steam-heat system should be disconnected from the outdated facility on the north finish of Constructing 606 and relocated to the south finish. Inset in higher proper reveals areas of wells 11 and 12, from which water was drawn to chill the reactor, and properly 13, the place handled reactor cooling water was dumped. All three wells are actually deactivated.
(Photograph courtesy of Military Corps of Engineers)

The SM-1A was a subject prototype of a medium-sized nuclear reactor the Military was growing throughout the Chilly Struggle to be used at distant army installations. It generated 20 megawatts of thermal power for steam warmth and 1.8 megawatts of electrical energy. Some parts have been faraway from the plant after it was shut down, as defined by Brian Hearty, the Corps of Engineers’ Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant Program supervisor, in a 2018 interview.

“The entire gasoline within the reactor core was eliminated,” Hearty mentioned. “Any of the extremely activated management and absorber rods have been additionally eliminated. The entire strong waste across the reactor was packaged up and shipped all the way down to waste-disposal amenities within the Decrease 48.”

Hearty mentioned among the plant’s main system parts, together with the reactor and its strain vessel and coolant pumps, have been entombed inside the power.

“These have been both saved in place, or they have been reduce off and laid down within the backside of the tall vapor containment constructing there, after which they have been grouted and concreted in place,” he mentioned.

Hearty mentioned these procedures decreased the quantity of radiation emitted by these parts to a degree that’s thought of secure. And he mentioned the location has been repeatedly monitored ever since.

These safeguards shield the employees on the warmth and energy plant that now runs on diesel-fired boilers. Barber mentioned earlier than the radioactive parts will be eliminated, the contractor that’ll finally be employed for the undertaking should disconnect the steam-heat system from the SM-1A.

“It is a very giant and distinctive undertaking, and so we actually do need that participation,” she mentioned. “We would like feedback from the general public.”

Barber mentioned individuals could attend subsequent week’s conferences in-person, on the Westmark Lodge in Fairbanks or Delta Junction Group Middle. Or they’ll learn how to take part on-line by going to Fort Greely’s Facebook page.



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