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2000-02761 / 10-V0518

Posted: 3/21/2018

Expiration date: 4/20/2018


FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE

The District Commander has received a joint application for Federal and State permits as described below:

APPLICANT
Huntington Ingalls Incorporated – Newport News Shipbuilding
4101 Washington Avenue
Newport News, Virginia 23607 

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in James River, at 4101 Washington Avenue in Newport News, Virginia. 

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The applicant proposes to increase the shipyard’s permitted dredge depths by variable amounts to achieve a series of standardized depths ranging from -30’ MLW to -50’ MLW across their carrier, submarine, & other vessel navigational zones to improve flexibility for ship movements and eliminate future permit modification requests.  The applicant is proposing to remove a total of 868,259 cubic yards of subaqueous bottom as part of the new dredging, and plans to dispose of the material at Craney Island.  

In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit/401 certification from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated and a permit from the Newport News Wetlands Board.  Project drawings are attached. 

AUTHORITY: Permits are required pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403), Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia. 

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use classification, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.  The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act).   

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing.  The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held. 

Preliminary review indicates that:  (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) after conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process, no listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended) will be affected. Based on this “no effect” determination, no further coordination with the Fish and Wildlife Service is required; and (3) no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places near the permit area would likely be affected by the proposal.  Additional information might change any of these findings.   

For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Tidewater, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCP) and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). We have not received a certification from the applicant prior to publication of this public notice. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the Office of Environmental Impact Review for concurrence or objection and proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found here:

http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/EnvironmentalImpactReview/FederalConsistencyReviews.aspx#cert

For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the VCP, contact the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Impact Review at (804) 698-4330 or e-mail: bettina.sullivan@deq.virginia.gov or john.fisher@deq.virginia.gov  

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).   The James River contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the various life stages of 11 species including windowpane flounder (Scopthalmus aquosus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), summer flounder (Paralicthys dentatus), black sea bass (Centropristus striata), king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), cobia (Rachycentron canadum), red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), dusky shark (Charcharinus obscurus), sandbar shark (Charcharinus plumbeus) . The habitat which this project would affect consists of regularly dredged, deepwater subaqueous silt/mud bottom. The proposed project is described in Proposed Work and Purpose, above. Our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that new dredging will not have a substantial adverse effect on EFH, as the areas proposed to be deepened are already regularly dredged, and therefore expanded EFH consultation is not required.  Our rationale for this preliminary determination is based on the expected short-term nature of the direct impacts/minimal increases in turbidity/changes in water temperature or salinity caused by the proposed work/the absence of vegetated wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation, and anadromous fish spawning habitat/ existing poor water quality/unsuitable substrate.  Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary. 

COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to matt.m.wicks@usace.army.mil, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on 20 April 2018.  

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY: Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.  

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Matthew Wicks.

craney island James River Newport News VDEQ