Frequently Asked Questions


1) What precautions does the Navy take to protect the environment and the public?

The health and safety of the public, military and civilian personnel, and the environment are of utmost importance to the Navy. The Navy’s procedures for protection of people and the environment meet or exceed all applicable federal, state, and local environmental health and safety laws and regulations. The Navy remains committed to this high standard.

A commercial vendor would be subject to all applicable local, state, and federal environmental and radiation protection requirements during dismantlement of ex-Enterprise. The Navy envisions contractually invoking Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requirements and obtaining NRC oversight via an interagency support agreement to accomplish the dismantlement of ex-Enterprise. The Navy would retain regulatory authority and contractually support use of the NRC requirements. The NRC would review project planning and engineering documents, conduct oversight of project execution, and provide the Navy recommendations for enforcement with the Navy’s dismantlement contractor.

The Navy fully analyzed the potential effects of the alternatives on public health and safety and the environment and documented the findings in the Draft EIS/OEIS. Based on the analysis, effects on public health and safety from each alternative would be minimal, negligible, or not applicable.

2) Why is the Navy disposing of ex-Enterprise?

The Navy has a responsibility to properly dispose of its inactive ships in a timely manner to eliminate environmental liabilities. After more than 50 years of service, ex-Enterprise was removed from the active fleet. Many of its major components and other equipment were nearing the end of their useful life, and it was not cost-effective to modernize and overhaul the ship to further extend its life for combat operations.

3) Why is commercial dismantlement the Navy’s Preferred Alternative?

The Navy has identified Alternative 3 – Commercial Dismantlement as its preferred alternative because it keeps the specially qualified and trained Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) workforce focused on high-priority fleet maintenance work and the submarine inactivation and reactor compartment package work that are already part of the PSNS & IMF workload, provides cost benefits to the U.S. taxpayer, would be completed in shortest duration, and would not result in significant environmental impacts. The preferred alternative does not result in any decrease in workforce at PSNS & IMF.

4) Why isn’t ex-Enterprise a floating museum? Will the public be able to have pieces of the ship as mementos?

Current Navy policy requires dismantlement of all nuclear-powered ships and disposal of their propulsion plants. 

However, items of historical significance have been removed from ex-Enterprise. While mementos of the ship are not available to individual members of the public, items of historical value and significance have been provided to the Naval Historical Heritage Command for appropriate dissemination. 

5) What kind of radioactive waste is produced from disposing of ex-Enterprise, and what danger does this pose to the public?

Ex-Enterprise has already been defueled, removing over 99.9 percent of the radioactivity from the ship’s nuclear propulsion plants. The majority (approximately 99 percent) of the small amount of radioactivity that remains in the ship is fixed in place within the rugged metal structure of the reactor vessel. The remaining radioactivity is metal corrosion and wear products resident within piping systems, components, and within the reactor plant areas. In accordance with federal regulations, this radioactivity is classified as low-level radioactivity. The Navy and commercial nuclear industry have decades of experience demonstrating safe and environmentally sound handling and disposal of such low-level radioactive waste. 

For each of the alternatives, radioactive waste packaging and shipping would meet applicable state and federal regulatory requirements

6) How would the Navy dispose of hazardous and radiological waste materials from ex-Enterprise?

The way these materials are disposed of would depend on the alternative selected. For reactor compartment packages, the Navy would construct eight single reactor compartment packages (Alternative 1) or four dual reactor compartment packages (Alternative 2). The reactor compartment packages would be shipped by barge to the Port of Benton near the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site, and via a multiple-wheel, high-capacity transporter to the DOE Hanford Site in Richland, Washington for disposal. 

For commercial dismantlement (Alternative 3), the reactor compartments would be disassembled and the reactor plant components would be disposed of as low-level radioactive waste at a licensed commercial or Government facility. 

All other waste would be disposed of at appropriate licensed and available locations.

Regardless of the alternative chosen, the Navy employs all necessary precautions to protect the public and the environment when dismantling ships and when transporting and disposing of naval nuclear propulsion plants. 

7) Will my input have any impact on this process?

Yes. The Navy is committed to facilitating public, stakeholder, and tribal input and dialogue to ensure a complete environmental analysis and informed decision-making. The Navy invites the public to review the Draft EIS/OEIS and welcomes comments that are substantive to the accuracy and adequacy of the environmental impact analysis.

8) What are the steps in the Navy’s NEPA process to arrive at a decision?

After the close of the public review and comment period for the Draft EIS/OEIS, the Navy will consider all comments received and develop the Final EIS/OEIS. All public comments received on the Draft EIS/OEIS will be considered and responded to in the Final EIS/OEIS.

The Final EIS/OEIS will be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency and made available to the public for a 30-day public review and wait period. After the wait period, the Navy will select an alternative and issue a Record of Decision. The Record of Decision will describe the public involvement and decision-making processes and present the Navy’s decision and any mitigation measures.

9) Why is this an OEIS?

Consistent with Navy policy, this EIS is considered an OEIS because the movement of ex-Enterprise, the center section of the ship, or the reactor compartment disposal packages could be beyond the 12-nautical-mile limit from U.S. shores. However, there is no intention to dismantle or dispose of ex-Enterprise at an overseas site.