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.

Any selected commercial vendor or vendors will be subject to all applicable local, state, and federal environmental and radiation protection requirements during dismantlement and disposal of ex-Enterprise. The Navy will contractually invoke Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requirements and obtain NRC oversight via an interagency support agreement to accomplish the dismantlement of ex-Enterprise. The Navy will retain regulatory authority and contractually support use of the NRC requirements. The NRC will review project planning and engineering documents, conduct oversight of project execution, and provide the Navy recommendations for contractual 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 Final 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 selected Alternative 3 – Commercial Dismantlement because this alternative safely disposes of the ex-Enterprise, including its hazardous materials, in approximately five years as compared to 15 years or more for other analyzed alternatives. Additionally, this alternative will have the lowest greenhouse gas emission, will not require modifications to the Port of Benton in Washington state, and will be executed at approximately half the cost to the taxpayer as compared with other alternatives. Finally, this alternative supports the Navy mission by allowing the Navy to focus limited public shipyard resources on priority fleet maintenance. This alternative will 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 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. For the selected alternative, the reactor compartments will be disassembled and the reactor plant components will be disposed of as low-level radioactive waste at a licensed commercial or Government facility. All other waste will be disposed of at appropriate licensed and available locations.

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

Yes. The Navy was committed to facilitating public, stakeholder, and tribal input and dialogue throughout the development of the EIS/OEIS to ensure a complete environmental analysis and informed decision-making. The completion of the Final EIS/OEIS follows years of research, analysis, and public involvement.

The Navy held four public scoping meetings in 2019 and, based on public comments received, opened an additional scoping period in 2020 to include Mobile, Alabama in the Study Area as another location for consideration. Following the release of the Draft EIS/OEIS in 2022, the Navy held two virtual public meetings to provide information and answer questions from the public about the draft environmental impact analysis.

The Final EIS/OEIS includes Navy responses to comments received during the Draft EIS/OEIS public review and comment period. Changes made in the Final EIS/OEIS reflect the Navy’s consideration of all substantive comments received on the Draft EIS/OEIS; information provided during consultation processes; and new, relevant information since the release of the Draft EIS/OEIS.

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

After the close of public review and comment period for the Draft EIS/OEIS, the Navy considered all comments received and developed the Final EIS/OEIS. All comments received on the Draft EIS/OEIS were considered and acknowledged or responded to in the Final EIS/OEIS.

The Final EIS/OEIS was 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 selected an alternative and issued a Record of Decision. The Record of Decision describes the public involvement and decision-making processes and presents the Navy’s decision and mitigation measures, including appropriate mitigation measures not already included in the Proposed Action or alternatives.

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.