The U.S. Navy is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts associated with the disposal of the decommissioned, defueled ex‑Enterprise, including its naval reactor plants.
USS Enterprise was commissioned in 1961 as the nation’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. After more than 50 years of service and one million miles safely steamed on nuclear power, the ship was decommissioned in 2017. Ex‑Enterprise was constructed with eight naval reactor plants housed in rugged compartments inside the ship. As part of the decommissioning process, the nuclear fuel has been removed from the ship’s eight reactor plants. Ex‑Enterprise is currently being stored pier-side at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
In 2012, the Navy prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the disposal of decommissioned, defueled naval reactor plants from ex‑Enterprise. In the Finding of No Significant Impact, the Navy decided to remove the reactor compartments from ex Enterprise at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) in Bremerton, Washington, prepare the reactor compartments for disposal as reactor compartment packages, recycle remnant hull sections, and transport the reactor compartment packages for disposal at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site, near Richland, Washington. The process described in the 2012 EA is an extension of the established program that has been utilized to safely dispose of 135 naval reactor compartments since 1986.
The Navy has since identified new disposal alternatives that may be more cost-effective and better utilize available resources within the Navy’s public shipyards. Therefore, the Navy is preparing this EIS/OEIS to consider these alternatives and potentially others that may be identified during the EIS/OEIS scoping process. The Navy is considering the following preliminary alternatives:
Partially dismantle the ex-Enterprise at a commercial disposal facility by removing areas of the ship outside of the naval reactor compartments. The remainder of the ship containing the naval reactor compartments would then be transported to PSNS & IMF for processing and disposal. PSNS & IMF would create eight individual reactor compartment packages for disposal at the DOE Hanford Site, using the established program that has successfully disposed of naval reactors compartments for over 30 years.
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Current transport route of defueled naval reactor plants from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to
the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford Site near Richland, Washington, for disposal.
Partially dismantle ex-Enterprise at a commercial disposal facility by removing areas of the ship outside of the naval reactor compartments. The remainder of the ship containing the naval reactor compartments would then be transported to PSNS & IMF for processing and disposal. PSNS & IMF would create four individual reactor compartment packages for disposal at the DOE Hanford Site, using the established program that has successfully disposed of naval reactor compartments for over 30 years. Each package would contain two of the ship’s reactor plants, and thus be larger and heavier than the packages that would be needed to dispose of the eight reactor plants individually.
Current transport route of defueled naval reactor plants from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford Site near Richland, Washington, for disposal.
Dismantle ex-Enterprise at an authorized commercial ship dismantlement facility, including cutting apart the eight reactor plants into segments for packaging into several hundred small containers for subsequent disposal at established DOE or licensed commercial waste facilities.
Disposal sites potentially available to accept radiological material generated by the commercial dismantling process.
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Store the ex-Enterprise waterborne. The aircraft carrier would require periodic maintenance to ensure storage continues in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
At the end of a U.S. Navy ship’s useful lifetime it is removed from service or “decommissioned.” For nuclear-powered ships, the nuclear fuel is removed from the ship during the decommissioning process. Under an existing program for nuclear-powered submarines and cruisers, the defueled reactor compartments are removed during the dismantling of the ship and transported for disposal at the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford Site. The Navy complies with all applicable federal, state, and local regulatory requirements for the dismantling, packaging, transport, and disposal of naval nuclear reactor compartments.
The removal of the nuclear fuel from the decommissioned ex-Enterprise (CVN 65) reactor plants has already taken place and is not part of the proposed action.
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF)
PSNS & IMF, established in 1891, is the Pacific Northwest's largest naval shore facility and one of Washington state's largest industrial installations.
PSNS & IMF has been safely disposing of naval submarine and cruiser reactor compartments since 1986. In 1990, the Navy authorized a program to recycle nuclear-powered ships at PSNS & IMF. Since 1991, recycling of the remaining sections of the hull has been accomplished in parallel with removal of the reactor compartment for disposal. Approximately 17% of the shipyard’s workload involves inactivation, reactor compartment disposal, and recycling of ships. To date, 135 reactor compartments from 126 ships have been safely packaged at PSNS & IMF and disposed of at a dedicated disposal area at the DOE Hanford Site.
For More Information:
Visit the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility website.