Investigative Report: Fort Greely Nuke Reactor

Another from the inbox (and one re notes from Caldicott speak forthcoming next week):

Investigative Report on the Nuclear Reactor at Fort Greely—

A Legacy of Secrecy

A Fact Sheet from Alaska Community Action on Toxics

June 2003

At the request of community members in Delta who are concerned about possible health effects from radioactive and chemical contamination at Fort Greely, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) conducted an investigation of the Army’s nuclear reactor. This fact sheet summarizes the report, The Nuclear Reactor at Fort Greely—the full report is available upon request or on our website at The report is timely in light of recent developments with the missile defense system at Fort Greely because it raises questions about the health and safety of workers and local residents.

For ten years (1962-1972), the Army operated a nuclear reactor at Fort Greely, the SM-1A (Stationary Medium Power Reactor—first field installation and prototype). Some residents of Delta Junction suspect that there is a relationship between the reactor and high cancer rates in the community. Researchers from ACAT and physicist Norm Buske of Nuclear-Weapons-Free America and researchers from ACAT worked to analyze military documents and conduct a 10-day field investigation.

Key Findings

Our research shows that the U.S. Army at Fort Greely is responsible for extensive radioactive contamination through: 1) control rod accident—a near melt-down event in 1967 exposed workers to harmful levels of radiation; 2) radioactive steam heat to the post; 3) liquid radioactive waste discharged to groundwater and Jarvis Creek; 4) radioactive fallout; 5) solid radioactive waste disposal; and 6) long-lived radioactivity in the reactor still remaining on Fort Greely.

Perhaps the most significant finding of the report is that the U.S. Army disguised the true mission of the nuclear reactor at Fort Greely. Rather than a plant to provide heating and electricity to the base, the reactor was covertly designed and operated as a pilot plant to produce special nuclear materials suitable for use in battlefield weapons. Although it is small, the Greely reactor was and is capable of causing great harm to workers and local residents.

Key Recommendations

The following recommendations are necessary to hold the Department of Defense accountable:

  • Department of Defense must declassify and provide factual information about the covert reactor mission, operations, and accidents that may have caused harm to human health and the environment.
  • Designate Fort Greely as a National Priorities Site (Superfund) to provide greater oversight and funding for cleanup of radioactive and chemical contamination.
  • Conduct independent investigation of the extent of groundwater contamination, consequences of radioactive fallout event, and solid radioactive waste.
  • Use safe methods to clean up contaminated heating system on base.
  • Develop protocol for long-term monitoring and removal of radioactivity in containment structure.
  • Sponsor worker and resident health assessment conducted by independent researchers.
  • Ensure responsible cleanup of radioactive and chemical contamination on Fort Greely.

For more information or to obtain the full report, call Alaska Community Action on Toxics at (907) 222-7714.

About these ads

27 thoughts on “Investigative Report: Fort Greely Nuke Reactor

  1. I was a resident to Delta Juntion from 1962 to 1975. From 6 months old to about 15. Both of my parents worked on the military base and I went to school there. My dad was a steamfitter. The release of radioactive steam in the 72 incedent was on a monday. I would have been there for school. I played pinball at the bowling alley and bowled in a league once a week. I went to the movie theater, went to the church, was kept by friends wile my folks were still at work.
    My point is that I was there if not during the steam release if not within a short period of time afterwards.
    I played in the area where the area where the Tanana River met the Delta Creek. This is where runoff from Jarvis Creek would end up. Leaching from the waste water pumped into the groundwater would have ended up in this area also.
    At 25 my lung collapsed for the first time while serving in the Air Force. After several repeates an operation was concucted to cut out the part of my lung that kept perforating. At 32 or so the same thing happened to my other lung repeatedly again resulting in a much more modern and less painfull operation. At 45 I was diagnosed with Emphysema. My doctor claims there is no way this amount of damage could have happened from smoking by my age and sugjested it was congenital, but upon checking found there was no history of emphysema in my family anywhere, smoker or not.
    Several days ago I say my pulminary doctor and showed him the list of element found in the grass around the reactor he stopped at Strontium and Cesium and said both of these could have done the damage to my lungs. I am 47 and have 35% lung capacity. I am usually the youngest one in the waiting room for my pulminary appointments. In order to function I take Spiriva, Formoterol, Albuterol, Montelukast and Pulmicort.
    Again, I was at Delta Juntion, Fort Greely, Big Delta and Clearwater during all the years in question and can’t tell you how many 55 gallon drums I have seen in the woods during that time. While some were stationed there for only a few years, my dad love Alaska for its purity (kind of ironic) and stayed after his enlistment. My mother was the base commanders secretary. I rode the tank trails around Fort Greely on a snowmobile at length. My point is that I couldn’t help but be exposed and have health probems that should not have started at such an early age and a condition I should not have at my present age.
    What recorse do I have? Who do I contact? If anyone has answers I would appreciate it.

  2. I was station in Ft Greely from December 1966 thru December 68. I work right accross the Nuclear Reactor and didn’t know of any meltdown
    until I saw in the while surfing the internet.
    All my chlidren are have been diagnose with Bladder and Kidney problems. My second oldest
    had to have a Kidney removed in November of 68 at Almandorf AFB in Anchorage, my oldest son had to remove part of his Bladder, my oldest daughter is now having Bladder problems along with her daughter and now my wife to include my self.

    • Gordon Goodermote
      November 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

      My email I was at Greely from 67-69. I’m looking for pictures and others that may remember any facts about what they saw or experienced while touring there. . Would really appreciate.
      hearing from any one that was there. i was in HHQ company and drove wrecker. I get a lot of email so please put in subject line Fort Greely. I have tons of files and fact sheets maybe we can help each other out

  3. I was stationed at Fort Richardson, but went to Fort Greely for maneuvers in the fall of 1969. I was present at Fort Greely for approximately three or four weeks. In 1984 I came down with Hodgkins disease. I have never been a drinker or smoker, and I had not been able to tie my disease with exposure to chemicals or other contaminates. I now realize that Fort Greely is probably where my exposure occurred.

  4. I was stationed at Fort Greely between 1967 and 1968. I did not know about the SM-1A Nuclear reactor until I heard on the radio, 1991, there was a reactor leak in 1967. In 2007 I was diagnosed with a massive menninginoma (brain tumor). This type of tumor can be caused by Ionizing radiation. I placed a claim with the VA but was denied because there was no government record of the incident. I am in the process of appealing the decision but VA appeals are seldom made in favor of the veteran. It’s a shame that the burden of proof belongs to the veteran. Especially when the government sometimes hides the facts.

  5. I was stationed at Fort Greeley from 1967 through 1969. I now suffer from Parkinson ,Neurothapy, kidney Stones, Chronic Pain,Fatigue. Cysts in my kidney’s and spine. My Daughter has Kidney Stones And Cyst throughout her body and my Son suffers from Kidney Stones and Shaking and trembling on one side

  6. My email I was at Greely from 67-69. I’m looking for pictures and others that may remember any facts about what they saw or experienced while touring there. . Would really appreciate.
    hearing from any one that was there. i was in HHQ company and drove wrecker. I get a lot of email so please put in subject line Fort Greely. I have tons of files and fact sheets maybe we can help each other out

    Please Repond

    Gordon Godermote.

  7. Gordon,
    Before I forget what we are conversing here is my email You probably read my letter about Ft. Greeley. I, too need documation
    on what was happening there in Arctic Test Center.
    One of my friend that was station there with me has had water removed from his brains or something like that. You probably remember him from working in the Snack and as Bartender in the NCO club.
    His name is Glenn husted

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s