The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to start towing the STURGIS barge 1,750 miles to Galveston, Texas, today. The trip to the Port of Galveston will take approximately three weeks and will comply with the U.S. Coast Guard’s regulations.
The STURGIS, a former World War II Liberty Ship, was converted into the first floating nuclear power plant in the 1960s. Before being shutdown in 1976, the STURGIS’ nuclear reactor, MH-1A, was used to generate electricity for military and civilian use in the Panama Canal. It is important to note that the MH-1A reactor has no nuclear fuel or special nuclear material. The reactor was de-fueled, decontaminated for long-term storage, and sealed before being towed to the James River Reserve Fleet at Joint Base Langley Eustis, Virginia; where it has been stored and maintained since 1978, except for times of periodic dry dock maintenance.
The Corps of Engineers plans to decommission the STURGIS in Galveston and anticipates that the STURGIS will be in the Port of Galveston for 14 – 18 months. As part of the decommissioning process, the various waste streams on the STURGIS will be segregated and will be sent to an appropriate facility for recycling or disposal as either a radioactive or hazardous waste. Some specific wastes streams may include asbestos, lead based paints, elemental lead used for shielding and radioactive materials. After the decommissioning is complete and all radioactive materials are removed, the remaining portions of the STURGIS will be dismantled so they can be disposed of or recycled as scrap using standard ship breaking methods. The entire project will take approximately four years.
For more information on the STURGIS, please visit the project’s website: http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Sturgis.aspx. Please note the website includes links to a current video, as well as historical testing and construction videos. The historical videos are located in the History section at the bottom of the website.
Raw footage of today's departure will be available after 4 p.m. on the STURGIS Google drive site. This Google drive site currently has still images and a previously filmed video package: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9rzkLhUIJv1fmI4VzdKcFJ5amdMTWpmaXQxQjRQeWZ5SjV5dEd2a0hEYXBnRUlTbEJseDQ&authuser=0