USACE taps Aptim JV to decommission Alaska’s SM-1A reactor

October 18, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The SM-1A reactor facility at Fort Greely, Alaska. (Photo: USACE)

Baton Rouge, La.-based Aptim Federal Services announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has awarded the company a six-year, $95.5 million contract to decommission, dismantle, and dispose of the SM-1A nuclear power reactor at Fort Greely, Alaska.

The work will be conducted by Aptim-Amentum Alaska Decommissioning (A3D), a joint venture led by Aptim and Amentum Technical Services. Other members of A3D’s team include Heritage-M2C1 Joint Venture, Lynden Logistics, Brice Environmental, Oak Ridge Technologies, ReNuke Services, AECOM Technical Services, and Delta Junction Medical.

The work: According to Aptim, the work to be performed under the USACE contract includes planning, permitting, and engineering; site preparation; and demolition and disposal of facilities, including components from the deactivated and defueled nuclear reactor, related wells and utility corridors, plus other ancillary facilities. The contract also includes remediation of contaminated soils, a final status survey, and site restoration.

Preparatory site work is to begin later this month, and the A3D team is expected to be fully mobilized at Fort Greely by mid-2024. Aptim anticipates that decommissioning will be completed by 2029.

The history: First reaching criticality in 1962, SM-1A was a 20.2-MWt pressurized water reactor designed to be used as an “in-service” test facility for nuclear power in an arctic environment, with its primary mission being to supply electrical power and heating steam to Fort Greely. The secondary mission was to study the economics of operating a nuclear power plant in a remote area where conventional fuel costs are high and supply lines unusually long.

SM-1A was shut down in 1972, after which the reactor’s high-enriched fuel was removed and the plant put in safe storage (SAFSTOR) condition, with some minor decommissioning work performed.

The USACE first awarded a $103 million contract to Westinghouse Government Services for the decontamination and decommissioning of SM-1A in July 2022. A3D protested that award to the Government Accountability Office, which partially upheld the protest and directed the USACE to solicit and evaluate new proposals. A3D received the contract after lowering its bid to $95.5 million.

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