• Control room of the PM-3A nuclear generating plant at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, circa 1965, based on the SM-1 control room at Fort Belvoir.

  • The barge Sturgis, home of the MH-1A nuclear reactor destined for Gatun Lake, Panama, undergoes testing at Fort Belvoir.

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Nuclear Energy

Stationary Medium Power Plant 1 was a compact or “package” reactor, a prototype plant built to test the usefulness of small-output, componentized, and even portable nuclear power generation in distant places where accessibility was compromised and larger reactors were impossible to build. Because the target locations were so remote and resupply would be irregular at best, efficient power generation from non-fossil fuel sources was all the more prized. The research conducted by the ANPP at Fort Belvoir would yield seven more small-to-medium scale nuclear reactors in inhospitable locations like Fort Greely, Alaska, Camp Century, Greenland, McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica, and even aboard a barge moored in Gatun Lake on the Panama Canal. In almost all instances these plants were constructed offsite and shipped, piece by piece, to their final destination.