• Looking west past the SM-1’s containment dome across the Potomac River, from a U.S. Army Nuclear Power Program brochure.

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Nuclear Energy

SM-1 was the first power plant constructed under the oversight of the Army Nuclear Power Program (ANPP), an atomic energy program launched in 1954 and headquartered at Fort Belvoir. The reactor reached criticality—an engineering term describing a stable and sustained nuclear reaction—on 8 April 1957 and remained in constant operation until it was decommissioned in 1973. While the plant was notable for being the country’s first electrical grid-connected nuclear generating station, the bulk of its small two-megawatt output was consumed by Fort Belvoir itself.