NAO-2001-4137 Enviva section 10_404_EFH

Published July 16, 2012
Expiration date: 8/13/2012

July 13, 2012





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


Enviva Port of Chesapeake, LLC

1213 Victory Boulevard

Chesapeake, Virginia


WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:  The project is located in Paradise Creek and the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, a tributary to the Elizabeth River at 1213 Victory Boulevard in Chesapeake, Virginia.


PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE:  The applicant proposes to mechanically dredge approximately 20,000 cubic yards of material from an area measuring 200 feet wide by 950 feet long. This area was last maintenance dredged to a depth of -38 feet below mean low water (MLW) in August 2008. To accommodate larger ships, the applicant is proposing to dredge this area to an absolute depth of -42 feet below MLW. The purpose of this project is to continue to provide Enviva, a biomass fuels company, the necessary deep water access to export wood chips and pellets.


The proposed project will remain within the previously authorized dredge footprint but will be four feet deeper. Incorporating dredging best management practices, including not exceeding the capacity of the clamshell bucket or the receiving barge, will further minimize impacts.


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 Chesapeake 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) no species of fish, wildlife, or plant (or their critical habitat) listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (PL 93-205) will be affected; and (3) no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are in or near the permit area, or 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, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal zone (Tidewater) will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia Coastal Resources Management Program (VCP). For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable programs of the VCP, contact the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Impact Review at (804) 698-4330 or e-mail:


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 Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the adult life stage of windowpane flounder (Scophthalmus aquosus), the juvenile and adult stages of bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), the egg, larval, juvenile and adult stages of Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), the larval, juvenile, and adult stages of summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), the juvenile and adult stages of black sea bass (Centropristis striata), the egg, larval, juvenile, and adult stages of king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), the egg, larval, juvenile, and adult stages of Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), the egg, larval, juvenile and adult species of cobia (Rachycentron canadum), the egg, larval, juvenile and adult species of  red drum (Sciaenops occelatus), the larval form of dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus), the larval, juvenile, and adult form of sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), and is a habitat area of particular concern for sandbar shark. The habitat which this project would affect consists primarily of deep water fine-grained substrate. The proposed project is described in the Proposed Work and Purpose section, above. The dredging project will result in periodic disturbances to the benthic community. 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 and the absence of vegetated wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation, and anadromous fish spawning habitat. 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 made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WR-R c/o George Janek), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on August 13, 2012.


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 George Janek at 757-201-7135 or by email at







                                                                        Kimberly A. Prisco-Baggett, MBA

                                                                        Chief, Eastern Virginia

                                                                        Regulatory Section

Attachment: Drawings