NAO-2009-02374 (Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Portsmouth, Virginia)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District
Published Jan. 11, 2023
Expiration date: 2/10/2023

CENAO-WRR                        January 11, 2023        

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

Virginia Port Authority
Attn: Jeff A. Fisher
1000 Virginia International Gateway Boulevard
Portsmouth, Virginia 23703

PROJECT LOCATION:  Portsmouth Marine Terminal, 2000 Seaboard Avenue, Portsmouth, Virginia 23707

PROJECT SIZE: 20.5 acres


LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE: 36.857464°, -76.326720°

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND PURPOSE:  The applicant proposes to dredge two new turning basins and to construct an installation berth within the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Virginia. The project is designed to accommodate Mediterranean style mooring and jack-up of the installation vessel at the Port of Virginia’s Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) and involves dredging approximately 183,600 cubic yards of material from approximately 730,700 square feet of subaqueous bottom to a maximum depth of – 35 feet mean low low water (MLLW), including overdredge, for the construction of the proposed turnings basins. The construction of the installation berth will involve dredging approximately 59,838 cubic yards of material from approximately 159,792 square feet of subaqueous bottom to a maximum depth of – 57 feet MLLW, including overdredge, and the placement of approximately 59,838 cubic yards of stone material within the same footprint.  Once the project is complete, it is anticipated that the jack-up legs of an installation vessel will be advanced to the floor of the Installation Berth multiple times per year to support the loading of heavy equipment onto the installation vessels. For the initial dredging cycle, the approximately 183,600 cubic yards of dredged material from the two new turning basins will be transported via bottom dump scow to be disposed of in the Norfolk Ocean Disposal site. For the construction of the installation berth, approximately 33,137 cubic yards of dredge material from depths above -54 feet MLLW will be transported via bottom dump scow to be disposed of in the Norfolk Ocean Disposal site, and approximately 27,701 cubic yards of dredge material from depths below -54 MLLW will be transported via barge to be disposed of a the Weanack Land Reclamation Project.  Future dredge maintenance cycles are anticipated to dredge approximately 30,000 cubic yards of material from approximately 500,000 square feet of subaqueous bottom and will be transported in a similar manner or via pipeline to the Craney Island Dredged Material Management area at a frequency of approximately every 5 years. Dredging will be conducted with a combination of mechanical excavation and/or cutter-suction hydraulic dredging.

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 is being issued for the planned transport and disposal of dredged material at the Norfolk Ocean Disposal Site (NODS) that will result from the proposed dredging at PMT. Dredged material from the project site that meets Section 103 evaluation criteria is being proposed for placement at the NODS. The NODS 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 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 independent review and concurrence that the dredged material meets MPRSA criteria (40 CFR 227). The applicant is seeking concurrence from the Corps and USEPA that dredged material may be transported to and disposed of at the NODS if a permit is issued for the dredging activities.

Approximately 216,737 cubic yards (cy) of dredged material is proposed for transport and placement at NODS. The NODS is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 17 miles east of Cape Henry. The center of NODS is located at latitude 36°59’00” north and longitude 75°39’00” west and has a four nautical mile radius, with an area of approximately 50 square nautical miles. Water depths at the site range from -43 to -85 feet 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), Cheatham Annex CAD-A Pier (88,000 cy), and the Naval Weapons Stations Yorktown R3 Pier (110,000 cy). There have been no documented effects from the authorized discharges that have been made in the placement area.

It is estimated that placement operations for PMT project will occur intermittently in phases over an approximate 3-month period. Sediments proposed for dredging for the PMT project consist of alluvium material. Grain size of the dredged material is predominantly silty clay material with embedded fine sands consistent with the native bed sediments in the surrounding area. The average grain size consisted of 90 percent fine-grained elastic silt, and approximately 10% sand. The dredged material proposed for placement at NODS does not meet the testing exclusionary criteria set forth under 40 CFR 227.13(b). Subsequent dredged material testing detected the presence of several metals, several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), several semi-volatile organic compound (SVOCs), chlorinated pesticides, and several PCB and dioxins/furans congeners at the site. Dredged material 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 EPA in accordance with 40 CFR 220-228. Evaluation of the liquid phase of the dredged material has determined that the material complies with the Limiting Permissible Concentration (LPC) and is in compliance with 40 CFR 227.6(c)(1) and 227.27(a)(1). Evaluation of the liquid and suspended particulate phase of the dredged material has determined the material complies with LPC and is in compliance with 40 CFR 227.6(c)(2) and 227.27(b). Evaluation of the benthic toxicity solid phase of the dredged material has determined the material complies with the LPC and is in compliance with 40 CFR 227.13(c)(3), 227.6(c)(3), and 227.27(b). The dredged material meets the LPC for benthic bioaccumulation and complies with the benthic criteria of 40 CFR Part 227.13 (c)(3) for placement at NODS. Accordingly, the proposed dredged material from the PMT in Portsmouth, Virginia meets the Ocean Disposal Criteria (40 CFR 227). 

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION:  The project will dredge both previously undisturbed areas and areas with prior disturbance adjacent to an existing marine terminal and federal navigation channel for safe navigational access and mooring. The dredging will follow best management practices for the operation of hydraulic and/or mechanical clamshell dredge equipment. 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: No compensatory mitigation is proposed as impacts associated with the dredging are often considered temporary due to the fact the areas will continue to shoal in over time, and the impacts associated with the dredging will be minor and temporary given the dredging methods and type of material to be removed. The impacts to the proposed dredged material placement areas will also be temporary and minor.  The NODS is a previously approved dredged material management area and the conditions at the site will remain subaqueous after the material is deposited. The stone material to be placed within the installation berth is anticipated to provide a beneficial substrate for demersal and structure-oriented species and life stages. 

In addition, the applicant must obtain an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated.   

The applicant must obtain a permit from the Portsmouth Wetlands Board.

A copy of the joint permit application can be found on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s website ( 


(X)     Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403).

(X)    Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and 
    Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.

(X)    Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 
    (33 U.S.C. 1413).

(X)    Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 408 (Section 408))

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, 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 (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Preliminary review of the application indicates that no EIS will be required. 

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.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: after conducting the Norfolk District Endangered Species Act (ESA) Project Review Process, the Corps has made the preliminary determination that:

There may be an effect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the ESA of 1973. The IPaC Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table are attached for review and comment by the FWS and the NMFS.

Additional information might change any of these findings.


Historic Resources eligible for inclusion or included in the NRHP are in or near the Corps permit area or would likely be affected by the proposal.

Additional information may change any of these findings. 

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: 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 NMFS on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).

The Elizabeth River contains EFH for the egg, larvae, juvenile, and adult life stages of eleven species including Little Skate (Leucoraja erinacea), Atlantic Herring (Clupea harengus), Red Hake (Urophycis chuss), Winter Skate (Leucoraja ocellata), Clearnose Skate (Raja eglanteria), Atlantic Butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), windowpane flounder (Scopthalmus aquosus), Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), Black sea bass (Centropristis striata), Summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus). The habitat which this project would affect consists of deep-water areas with a sand and silt substrate.  The proposed project is described in Proposed Work and Purpose, above.  Our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that it will not have a substantial adverse effect on EFH 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 or submerged aquatic vegetation, and proximity to industrial properties with high vessel traffic.  Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary.

SECTION 408:  The Norfolk District Operations Branch has determined that the proposed activity will require permission to alter a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project pursuant to Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 408 (Section 408)). Interested parties are hereby notified that this request (Section 408 Request ID: 408-NAO-2022-0063) for permission is to alter Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA) Federal Project. Specifically, the Norfolk District is evaluating the impacts to CIDMMA and navigation associated with proposed future maintenance dredge activities. The placement of dredged material at CIDMMA will be dependent upon capacity limitations and use will be determined when use is requested in the future. All new work dredged material will be placed at NODS or the Weanack Land Reclamation Project. Written comments, including any objections to the proposed alteration, stating reasons therefor, are being solicited from anyone having an interest in the requested alteration. The authority to grant permission for temporary or permanent use, occupation, or alteration of any USACE civil works project is contained in Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Section 408 authorizes the Secretary of the Army to grant permission for the alteration or occupation or use of a USACE project if the Secretary determines that the activity will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project. Written comments specific this Section 408 review should be submitted directly to the Section 408 project manager, Katy Damico, at and copied to the Section 408 inbox at and the Regulatory contact noted in the “Comment Period” section below.

VIRGINIA’S COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM: For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Virginia’s Coastal Zone, 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’s Coastal Zone Management Program (Virginia CZM Program), and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the OEIR 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 in the Federal Consistency Manual here: .  For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the Virginia CZM Program, contact the DEQ-OEIR at (804) 659-1915 or e-mail:

The applicant has submitted concurrence.

VIRGINIA’S SECTION 401 WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM: The applicant must obtain, from the Virginia DEQ, a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for any federal license or permit that authorizes an activity that may result in a discharge into waters of the U.S. (40 CFR Part 121).  As the Certifying Authority, the Virginia DEQ may grant, grant with conditions, or deny a certification request. Alternatively, the Virginia DEQ may waive, expressly or implicitly, its authority to act on a certification request.  In either case, a written notice of waiver from DEQ (expressly waived) or from the Corps (implicitly waived), satisfies the project proponent’s requirement to obtain certification. 

Pursuant to 33 CFR 325.2(b)(1)(i), this Public Notice serves as the Corps’ CWA § 401(a)(2) notification to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Pursuant to 40 CFR 121.12, the EPA shall notify the Corps, the Virginia DEQ, and the applicant, within 30 days of receipt of the application and certification, if the Regional Administrator determines that the proposed discharge may affect the quality of the waters of any neighboring jurisdiction.  

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WRR), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, VA  23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on February 10, 2023. 

PRIVACY AND 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
Mrs. Nicole Woodward at 757-201-7122 or

Attachments: Drawings