The health and safety of the public, military and civilian personnel, and the environment are of the 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.
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.
Mobile is being considered as an option for commercial dismantlement based on public comments received during the initial scoping phase in 2019.
The Navy met with representatives from the Port of Mobile, local elected officials, representatives of congressmembers, and other local stakeholders. These discussions led the Navy to view Mobile as a viable alternative to be analyzed in the EIS/OEIS.
Facilities in Mobile are able to support the complete dismantlement of ex-Enterprise. Complete dismantlement includes deconstructing the aircraft carrier and its associated naval reactor plants and shipping to authorized and available disposal sites.
The Navy values the input of all stakeholders for this project, including the new stakeholders in the Mobile, Alabama area. The addition of this public comment period to the schedule supports publication of the Draft EIS/OEIS in the summer of 2021 and the publication of a record of decision in the fall of 2022.
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.
Ex-Enterprise has already been defueled, removing over 99% of the radioactivity from the ship’s nuclear propulsion plants. The small amount of radioactivity that remains in the ship is comprised of the rugged metal structure of the reactor plants and metal corrosion and wear products resident within piping systems. 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 radioactivity.
How these materials are disposed of will depend on the alternative selected. For reactor compartment packages, whole reactor compartments would be encased in steel and disposed of at the Hanford Site, a Department of Energy site that accepts limited types of radioactive waste, including reactor compartment packages from PSNS & IMF.
For commercial dismantlement, the reactor compartments would be disassembled and the propulsion plant components disposed of separately as low-level radioactive waste at licensed commercial or government facilities.
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.
Yes, the Navy is committed to facilitating public input to ensure a complete environmental analysis and informed decision making. In fact, the purpose of public involvement is not only to provide information to the public about the proposed action, but also to solicit comments on the scope, content, viable alternatives, and resources to analyze in the draft EIS/OEIS.
The Navy announced its Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS/OEIS on May 31, 2019. A scoping period was held from May 31, 2019, through July 15, 2019. The Navy reopened the scoping period from Aug. 12, 2020, through Sept. 11, 2020, to add Mobile, Alabama as a potential location for commercial dismantlement. The scoping period is an early and open public process for identifying, defining, and prioritizing issues to be evaluated in the EIS/OEIS. During this phase, the public was encouraged to provide comments on the scope of the EIS/OEIS, viable alternatives, and specific environmental topics for consideration in the analysis. The Navy is considering all public comments received during the scoping periods and developing the Draft EIS/OEIS.
Once completed, the Draft EIS/OEIS will be filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and made available to the public for a review and comment period. After the close of public review and comment period, 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 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.
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.