Public Health Activities Site Plan
Draft for Public Comment
Nuclear Naval Shipyard Workers
 Draft Agenda for Public Health Activities for Fiscal Years 1999 and 2000 at U.S. Department of Energy Sites, April 1999


The U.S. Nuclear Navy Shipyards (NNS) built the first nuclear-powered ship, the USS Nautilus, which went to sea in 1955. Since that time, the Navy has developed shipyard nuclear capabilities at Kittery, Maine (near Portsmouth, New Hampshire); New London, Connecticut; Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Mare Island, California; Puget Sound, Washington; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At each of these sites, nuclear-powered ships have been constructed, overhauled, repaired, refueled, or inactivated. Approximately 700,000 civilians have been employed at these facilities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed or proposed for listing five sites which include nuclear naval shipyards on the National Priorities List (NPL): the New London Submarine Base, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Complex.

The New London Submarine Base covers 1,412 acres on the east bank of the Thames River, at New London, New London County, Connecticut. The area around the base is mixed industrial, commercial, and residential property. The base was established in 1916, and it now serves primarily as an operation and support base for submarine activities in the Atlantic Ocean. According to Navy tests conducted in 1984, sediment and surface water in and around an area known as Area A are contaminated with lead, cadmium, 4,4-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD), and 4,4-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT).

The Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) dates to 1767 and was the largest shipyard in the world devoted exclusively to ship construction, repair, and overhaul. Lying along the southern branch of the Elizabeth River near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, the shipyard is centrally located in the tidewater region of southeastern Virginia. Fisheries, wetlands, and other sensitive environments are located downstream from the site.

The Pearl Harbor Naval Complex occupies at least 6,300 acres in Pearl Harbor on the Island of Oahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii. Land around the complex supports agriculture, aquaculture, and industry as well as commercial and residential usage. The Pearl Harbor Naval Complex began operation in 1901 when the Navy received an appropriation to acquire land for a naval station. After the Japanese attack on the base on December 7, 1941, industrial activity at the complex skyrocketed and 24,000 civilians were employed by mid-1943.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) is located on Seavey Island in the Piscataqua River in Kittery, York County, Maine. The PNS property also includes the undeveloped Clark's Island, which is connected by a bridge to Seavey Island. The Portsmouth shipyard was established in 1690 and became a Navy shipyard in 1800. During its operational history, the shipyard was used for the construction of ships and submarines. Currently the shipyard overhauls and refurbishes attack submarines and nuclear propulsion fleet ballistic missile submarines. Dredged sediment samples collected in the late 1970s near the industrial outfalls were found to contain elevated concentrations of metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other contaminants. In addition, hazardous substances attributable to PNS are present at elevated levels in wetlands bordering Seavey Island.

The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Complex is located in Bremerton, Washington, along Sinclair Inlet on Puget Sound, approximately 15 miles west of Seattle. The Navy has owned and operated facilities at this location since 1891. The complex consists of a naval shipyard and a naval supply center and employs more than 12,000 people. EPA has identified 58 known or potential sources of contamination at the complex. In 1990 and 1991, the Navy found elevated levels of heavy metals, semivolatile organic compounds, PCBs, and pesticides in surface soils, subsurface soils, and groundwater in a number of areas throughout the complex, as well as in sediments of Sinclair Inlet adjacent to the shipyard.

What have we learned from studies and assessments of nuclear naval shipyards?

What are the current studies and public health activities at the nuclear naval shipyards?

What are the gaps in our knowledge and what important issues need to be addressed?

Proposed Activities

Ongoing Activities

The agencies propose to continue the projects already underway which were listed previously.

New Activities for FY 1999 and FY 2000

Activities for Which the Funding Source is External to the Memorandum of Understanding Between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services