Public Health and Safety

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is dedicated to maintaining its strong safety record.

Program principles include:

  • Personal responsibility.
  • Technical knowledge.
  • Rigorous training.
  • Safety.
  • Environmental stewardship.
  • Emergency preparedness.
  • Outreach and consultation with the public and with federal, state, local, and tribal partners.

The health and safety of the public, military and civilian personnel, and the environment are of utmost importance to the Navy. The Navy employs all necessary precautions to protect the public and the environment when dismantling ships and when transporting and disposing of nuclear propulsion plants. 

The Navy analyzed the potential effects of the alternatives on public health and safety and the environment and documented the findings in the Final EIS/OEIS.

The U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program maintains an outstanding record of over 170 million miles safely steamed on nuclear power. A leader in environmental protection, the Program has published annual environmental reports since the 1960s, showing that the Program has not had an adverse effect of human health or on the quality of the environment. Because of the Program’s demonstrated reliability, U.S. nuclear-powered warships are welcomed in more than 150 ports of call in over 50 foreign countries and dependencies.

The Navy maintains its environmental responsibilities from nuclear-powered warship design to ultimate disposal. As of October 2022, the Program has safely disposed of 140 reactor compartment packages.

The Program’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 Program remains committed to this high standard. 

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.