February 28, 2022
FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE
SUBJECT: Norfolk Harbor Navigation Improvements Project, Atlantic Ocean Channel and Meeting Area 1 – Proposed Maintenance and New Work Dredging, Transport, and Placement at the Dam Neck Ocean Disposal Site and the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area.
Pursuant to Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) of 1972 and USACE policy 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 337.1, this Public Notice serves as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District (Corps) notification relating to proposed placement of suitable dredged material at the Dam Neck Ocean Disposal Site (DNODS) and the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA).
The DNODS was designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) pursuant to Section 102(c) of MPRSA for the ocean placement of suitable dredged material. The final rule was promulgated by the USEPA on March 31, 1988 (FR. Vol. 53 No. 62), effective March 31, 1988. Dredged material proposed for transport for the purpose of discharge at the DNODS must be evaluated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with part 227 of the MPRSA, Section 103 and processed in accordance with 33 CFR 324. The use of DNODS is contingent upon USEPA, Region 3 review and concurrence that the dredged material meets MPRSA criteria (40 CFR 227).
The dredging, transport, and placement of dredged material at the Norfolk Ocean Disposal Site (NODS) will be an alternate placement site for suitable dredged material if needed to maintain navigation or if the DNODS is unavailable for placement of dredged material. The NODS was designated by the USEPA pursuant to Section 102(c) of MPRSA for the ocean placement of suitable dredged material. The final rule was promulgated by the USEPA on July 2, 1993 (FR. Vol. 58 No. 126), effective July 2, 1993. Dredged material proposed for transport for the purpose of discharge in at the NODS must be evaluated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with part 227 of the MPRSA, Section 103 and processed in accordance with 33 CFR 324. The use of NODS is contingent upon USEPA, Region 3 review and concurrence that the dredged material meets MPRSA criteria (40 CFR 227).
The CIDMMA is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is considered a beneficial use site for the AOC dredged material placement to construct and maintain the containment dikes to increase capacity for confined placement of dredged material. The CIDMMA was Congressionally authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1946 as a dredged material placement site that is restricted to placement of material from dredging to support navigation in Norfolk Harbor and adjacent waters [(USACE)-Norfolk District Policy Memorandum WRD-01]. Dredged material proposed for beneficial re-use at CIDMMA must be evaluated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for compliance in accordance to the Clean Water Act, Section 404. Section 404 further requires that dredged material discharge be analyzed thoroughly through the application of the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines developed by the USEPA in conjunction with the USACE are published in 40 CFR 230. Section 404 Guidelines are based upon criteria comparable to the criteria applicable to those developed under Section 403(c) for the territorial seas, contiguous zone, and the ocean. Through the consideration of the relationship between Section 404 the CWA and Section 103 of the MPRSA, the evaluation of the dredged material from the Norfolk Harbor Improvements Project, Atlantic Ocean Channel and Meeting Area 1 for ocean disposal will satisfy the compliance evaluation with the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines for beneficial use at the CIDMMA.
Approximately 16.13 million cubic yards (mcy) of maintenance and deepening (new work) dredged material from the Norfolk Harbor Navigation Improvements Project, Atlantic Ocean Channel (AOC), was evaluated to determine compliance with the criteria in Part 227 of the MPRSA, Section 103. Up to 2,000,000 cubic yards (cy) of sandy dredged material from the AOC is proposed for beneficial re-use at the CIDMMA. The dredged material will be placed within the containment cells at CIDMMA for re-use. The sandy dredged material is intended for beneficial use to construct and maintain the containment dikes at the CIDMMA to increase capacity for confined placement of dredged material from the Norfolk Harbor Navigation Improvements Project Norfolk Harbor, and adjacent waters consistent with the project’s Congressional authorization. Additionally, a portion of the sand volumes proposed for dredging from AOC are under consideration for beneficial use as beach fill for local beach nourishment and hurricane protection projects.
Approximately 6.17 mcy of new work material from the Norfolk Harbor Navigation Improvements Project, Meeting Area 1 (MA1) was evaluated to determine compliance with the criteria in Part 227 of the MPRSA, Section 103. The MA1 dredged material is proposed for placement at the DNODS.
The NODS will be a secondary placement alternative for dredged material from the AOC and MA1. Placement at the NODS will be an alternative disposal site for suitable dredged material if needed to maintain navigation or if the DNODS is unavailable for placement of dredged material.
The anticipated construction duration is approximately two to three years depending on funding availability and the availability of industry dredges to perform the work. Following initial construction of the AOC and MA1, maintenance dredging is expected to be performed approximately every three years and remove approximately 500,000 cy from the AOC and 200,000 cy from the MA1 per cycle during the maintenance phase of the project.
LOCATION AND PRIOR USE: The AOC is located in the Atlantic Ocean east of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, approximately 10 statute miles long and 1,300 feet wide. MA1 is an approximate 5 statute-mile section of the Thimble Shoal Channel on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel that will be widened from 1,000 feet to 1,400 feet (200 feet on each side of the channel) to create MA1. The DNODS boundary coordinates are as follows [40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 288.5]:
36º 51’ 24.1” N 75º 54’ 41.4” W
36º 51’ 24.1” N 75º 53’ 02.9” W
36º 46’ 27.4” N 75º 51’ 39.2” W
36º 46’ 27.5” N 75º 54’ 19.0” W
36º 50’ 05.0” N 75º 54’ 19.0” W
The DNODS has an area of approximately 9 square nautical miles located in federal waters due east of the Dam Neck/Virginia Beach section of the Virginia coast and approximately 7 nautical miles south and east of the Chesapeake Bay. Water depth within the DNODS averages approximately -40 feet mean lower low water (MLLW). The DNODS is divided into seven placement cells; cells 2, 5, 6, and 7 are designated for fine-grained materials and Cells 1, 3, and 4 are reserved for sandy material. The site was designated by USEPA as suitable for the ocean disposal of dredged material from three Federal Navigation Channels: the Atlantic Ocean Channel, the Cape Henry Channel, and the Thimble Shoal Channel.
The DNODS has been in use since 1967 when the Corps initially deepened the Thimble Shoal Channel to -45 feet. Since that time, all new work and maintenance dredged material from Cape Henry Channel and Thimble Shoal Channel have been deposited at the DNODS. These deposits included a variety of naturally occurring marine sediments, ranging from silts and clays to fine, medium, and coarse sands. The Cape Henry Channel and Thimble Shoal Channel are maintenance dredged approximately every two to three years, and the DNODS is utilized as the placement site of suitable dredged material. The Thimble Shoal Channel was last maintenance dredged during the period of 18 June 2019 through 08 August 2019 removing approximately 1,306,064 cy and placed at the DONDS. Thimble Shoal Channel – West is currently being dredged and utilizing the DNODS as a placement site. Approximately 5.5 mcy have been placed to date; but it has not yet reached completion, therefore final quantities are not yet available. There have been no documented effects from the authorized discharges that have been made in the placement area.
The NODS is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 17 statute miles east of Cape Henry. The center point coordinate of the NODS is latitude 36°59’00” North and longitude 75°39’00” West. The site is circular with a radius of 4 nautical miles and has an area of approximately 50 square nautical miles. Water depth within the NODS ranges from -42 to -85 ft MLLW. The site has unlimited capacity and is designated to provide capacity for long-term management of dredged material from the lower Chesapeake Bay and suitable materials from Norfolk Harbor (USEPA 1992). Any dredged material that passes ocean placement criteria may be placed at the NODS.
Prior to 2008, the only prior use of the NODS was by the U.S. Navy in August 1993. Approximately 51,000 cy of dredged material from the Naval Supply Center Cheatham Annex and 475,000 cy of dredged material from the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown were placed at the site. Since 2010, other projects that have been recently placed at the NODS include the VDOT-Midtown Tunnel (1,121,642 cy placed October 2013 to October 2014), Joint Base Langley Eustis (JBLE) Skiffes Creek Channel (128,244 cy placed November 2014 to December 2014), JBLE-Fuel Pier Basin (57,122 cy placed February 2019 to July 2019), and the JBLE-Back River Channel (125,723 cy placed February 2019 to July 2019). Since 2009, additional projects have received authorization to place dredged material at the NODS including the Craney Island Eastward Expansion (CIEE) (24.5 mcy), Norfolk Inner Harbor Channel 50-feet element (1 mcy), Baltimore Harbor Upper Bay Approach Channels, Joint Base Langley Eustis – Fuel Pier Replacement Project, the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station (65,000 cy), Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel – Parallel Thimble Shoals Tunnel Project (1.7 mcy) and Langley Back River Project (125,723 cy). There have been no documented effects from the authorized discharges that have been made in the placement area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CIDMMA is a 2,500-acre upland confined dredged material placement facility located in the City of Portsmouth, Virginia. The placement area is enclosed by a perimeter containment dike and divided into three sub-containment cells by two division dikes. The CIDMMA is approximately two miles square with existing ground elevations within the cells ranging from approximately +32 to +40 feet MLLW. CIDMMA receives dredged material typically hydraulically conveyed into the containment cells over the east dike. Containment dikes are maintained to create additional dredged material storage capacity through the beneficial use of dredged material placed at the CIDMMA. Maintenance of the containment dikes includes the excavation and redeposit of the dredged material to maintain and construct additional placement capacity. Currently, dikes range in height from +35 to +45 MLLW. The excavation and redeposit of dredged material for dike maintenance and dewatering containment cells of dredged material effluent and runoff are ongoing maintenance activities involving dredged material discharges at CIDMMA consistent with 40 CFR 232.2(1). CIDMMA is the primary dredged material placement area for construction and maintenance of navigation channels in the Hampton Roads port complex. It provides essential dredged material placement capacity for the federal navigation channels, U.S. Navy facilities, Virginia Port Authority facilities and other commercial port facilities in Hampton Roads.
DREDGED MATERIAL CHARACTERITICS AND COMPOSITION: Sediments proposed for dredging consist of both maintenance and new work dredged material in the AOC and new work dredged material for MA1 to support safe navigable depths. Grain size of the dredged material in the AOC is predominantly comprised of fine to medium course-grained sand, while the grain size in the MA1 primarily comprised of fines (ranging from approximately 53 to 86 percent silt/clay). The dredged material proposed for placement at DNODS does not meet the testing exclusionary criteria set forth under 40 CFR 227.13(b). Subsequent dredged material testing of AOC and MA1 detected the presence of metals and dioxin/furan congeners and in the bulk sediments from the AOC, and metals, dioxin/furan congeners and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (within one location in MA1) were detected in the bulk sediments from MA1.
Dredged material from AOC and MA1 was tested for liquid phase, liquid and suspended particulate phase, and solid phase (e.g., benthic toxicity and benthic bioaccumulation) using criteria and procedures developed by the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in accordance with 40 CFR 220-228. Evaluation of the liquid phase has determined the material from AOC and MA1 complies with the Limiting Permissible Concentration (LPC) at the DNODS as well as the NODS and is in compliance with 40 CFR 227.6(c)(1) and 227.27(a)(1). Evaluation of the liquid and suspended particulate phase has determined the material from AOC and MA1 complies with the LPC at the DNODS as well as the NODS and is in compliance with 40 CFR 227.6(c)(2) and 227.27(b). Evaluation of the benthic toxicity solid phase has determined the material from AOC and MA1 complies with the LPC and is in compliance with 40 CFR 227.13(c)(3), 227.6(c)(3) and 227.27(b) for placement at the DNODS and the NODS. The dredged material from AOC and MA1 meets the LPC for benthic bioaccumulation and complies with the benthic criteria of 40 CFR Part 227.13 (c)(3) for placement at DNODS and NODS. The dredged material as described from the Norfolk Harbor Navigation Improvements Project, AOC and MA1 meets the MPRSA criteria (40 CFR 227).
The chemical and ecotoxicological evaluation performed on the AOC dredged material for the MPRSA Section 103 is consistent with the evaluation for CWA Section 404(b)(1) compliance. The dredged material analysis of the AOC sediment indicates that the disposal of dredged material in the territorial seas and/or State waters in a confined disposal facility such as CIDMMA will not cause or contribute to significant degradation of waters of the U.S. including adverse effects on human health, life stages of organisms dependent on the aquatic ecosystem, ecosystem diversity, productivity and stability, and recreational, aesthetic, and economic values. Based upon the above information, data, and analysis, the USACE – Norfolk District, finds that placement of suitable sandy dredged material from AOC at CIDMMA, complies with Section 404(b)(1) guidelines. USACE – Norfolk District requested a CWA, Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the State through the Coastal Zone Management Act - Federal Consistency Determination on February 2, 2022.
ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTATION: The environmental impacts of the Norfolk Harbor Navigation Improvements have been evaluated in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and regulatory documents including: (1) the Final General Reevaluation Report and Final Environmental Assessment dated June 2018; (2) the corresponding Finding of No Significant Impact was executed in October 2018 (3) the Final Norfolk Harbor Meeting Area Validation Report and Environmental Assessment dated November 2021, and (4) the corresponding Finding of No Significant Impact was executed in February 2022.
COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to JavierAnn.F.Wright@usace.army.mil, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: Javier Wright, CENAO-WR-O), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on March 30, 2022.
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, contact Javier Wright at 757-201-7890 or by email at JavierAnn.F.Wright@usace.army.mil.