Army Resumes Decommissioning In Alaska

[UPDATED]Work to complete decommissioning of the Army's remote nuclear power plant in Alaska has resumed after a long-term hiatus, officials said.

SM-1A at Fort Greely, AlaskaThe plant known as SM-1A, is situated at Fort Greely, Alaska.

It was commissioned in 1962 and was built to supply steam heat and power to the remote location in part to power radar systems monitoring Russian missile activity during the Cold War, according to Nuclear Engineering International (NEI).

The reactor was considered an economic experiment with the Army trying to beat the cost of fuel transportation to Alaska with a nuclear power plant that could operate for months on one refueling as opposed to a diesel power plant that required constant refueling. But high upfront costs and high maintenance costs eventually caused the Army to judge the prototype a failure. It closed in 1972 after a decade of sporadic operations, the NEI said.

Much of the plant, including the fuel and the control rod assemblies, has already been dismantled a shipped, much of that shipped to the Atomic Energy Commission, which predated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Most of what remains is encased in concrete and needs to be shipped out of state. A process of planning the final decommissioning steps is underway. The decommissioning is expected to be completed in 2026.

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  • Anonymous

    I was a Sp4 at Fort Greeley the summer of 1966 and I was told our base power came from a diesel generator.  We did have a few power outages during the 4 months I was there.  Perhaps the power was diesel during my 4 month stay.

    Sp4 Tom Voss US56389513

  • Anonymous

    An idea ahead of its time.