Brownsville is one of four cities where the Department of the Navy will hold public meetings about the environmental impact of scrapping the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
The Department of the Navy plans to prepare an environmental impact statement to evaluate potential environmental impacts associated with the disposal of the decommissioned and defueled U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN 65), according to a source familiar with the plans.
The notification of the proposed action will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, the source said.
The Department of the Navy is planning public scoping meetings in late June in Brownsville; in Newport News, Virginia; in Bremerton, Washington; and in Richland, Washington, according to the source.
The aircraft carrier is incredibly historic, having a front row seat at some of history’s biggest conflicts, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, among its numerous deployments across the globe.
The 93,248-long-ton vessel was the third-oldest commissioned vessel to ever serve in the Navy.
The USS Enterprise was decommissioned in 2012 and since then, the Navy has been working on figuring out how to safely dismantle the ship, which includes removing the reactors and transporting them to a nuclear waste storage facility, according to an article published by Popular Mechanics in 2018.
According to that article, the Navy’s original plan was to scrap the ship, remove the reactors and then transport the reactors to a Department of Energy facility, but after the cost to do so soared to more than $1 billion, the effort was stopped.
The Popular Mechanics article, citing a General Accounting Office report, said the Navy has two options: the Navy can manage dismantling the ship, allowing commercial companies to scrap the non-nuclear parts of the ship while preserving the area containing the reactors, then move that area to the Puget Sound Naval Base, where the reactors would be removed.
The cost of this would be up to $1.55 billion and take a decade to complete, beginning in 2034, according to the article.
The second option is to put the commercial industry in charge and allow it to do everything, including removing to reactors to a cost of $750 million to $1.4 billion starting in 2024 for a period of five years, Popular Mechanics reported.
Whatever happens, the dismantling of the vessel will likely tug the heart strings of the thousands of sailors who served on the ship over its five-decades sailing the world’s oceans.
The dismantling of the ship, which has defueled nuclear reactors, will also likely raise environmental concerns wherever its final port is.