A method for the controllable dissolution of one or more alkali metals from a vessel containing a one or more alkali metals and/or one or more partially passivated alkali metals. The vessel preferably comprising a sodium, NaK or other alkali metal-cooled nuclear reactor that has been used. The alkali metal, preferably sodium, potassium or a combination thereof, in the vessel is exposed to a treatment liquid, preferably an acidic liquid, more preferably citric acid. Preferably, the treatment liquid is maintained in continuous motion relative to any surface of unreacted alkali metal with which the treatment liquid is in contact. The treatment liquid is preferably pumped into the vessel containing the one or more alkali metals and the resulting fluid is extracted and optionally further processed. Preferably, the resulting off-gases are processed by an off-gas treatment system and the resulting liquids are processed by a liquid disposal system. In one preferred embodiment, an inert gas is pumped into the vessel along with the treatment liquid.