Published Oct. 4, 2013
Expiration date: 11/4/2013


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

Virginia Electric and Power Company
5000 Dominion Blvd
Glen Allen, Virginia 23060

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:  The project is located in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, at the Chesapeake Energy Center, 2701 Vepco Street in Chesapeake, Virginia.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE:  Virginia Electric and Power Company proposes to stabilize a portion of the shoreline at the Chesapeake Energy Center.  The Chesapeake Energy Center is planned for decommissioning in December, 2014, and the purpose of the project is to stabilize the perimeter shoreline around the Columbia Gas property and dry ash storage facility south of the station, with a long term, low maintenance solution.  The application is for work proposed in Priority Area 1 which has been identified as the shoreline area with the most severe erosion and in need of the most urgent repair.  Priority Area 1 is approximately 1,050 feet long and located on the east side of Dominion’s property.  The applicant proposes to flatten the shoreline slope through a combination of excavation and placement of compacted structural fill, with riprap placed along the bottom half of the re-graded slope. Approximately 1,400 cubic yards of material will be installed below mean high water.  The average encroachment past mean high water is less than 5 feet and the maximum encroachment is approximately 10 feet.  All fill will be located landward of mean low water.  Approximately 9,350 square feet (0.21 acres) of tidal wetlands consisting of a mix of primarily Spartina alterniflora, Spartina patens, and Phragmites australis will be impacted by the riprap and fill.  In addition, approximately 11,520 square feet (0.26 acres) of non-tidal wetlands consisting of primarily Phragmites australis will be impacted.  In some areas of the slope, fill will be placed in order to re-establish the slope.  The average length of this area is 725 feet and the square footage is approximately 14,500 square feet.  This area includes both uplands and wetlands.  All fill slopes will be temporarily and permanently stabilized with native grasses or by other means consistent with the Virginia Erosion and Sedimentation Control Handbook.

An alternatives analysis, discussing avoidance and minimization methods conducted by the applicant, is attached to this public notice and entitled, “Appendix B, Project Description and Alternatives Analysis.”

Dominion evaluated on-site areas for compensation to wetland impacts.  However, the on-site areas are currently dominated by Phragmites australis, an invasive plant species, and these on-site areas are steeply sloped and relatively unstable.  Since the CEC will be decommissioned, on-site mitigation is problematic.  The applicant plans to compensate for all unavoidable wetland impacts through the purchase of credits from local mitigation banks.  For the tidal wetland impacts, the applicant plans to purchase 9,350 square feet (0.21 acres) of credits (1:1 ratio) from the Libertyville Road Tidal Mitigation Bank.  For non-tidal wetlands compensation, the applicant plans to purchase 10,890 square feet (0.25 acres) of credits from the Great Dismal Swamp Restoration Bank- Lewis Farm.

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 Virginia Marine Resources Commission, acting as the local 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 (ESA)  of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended) under the purview of the Fish and Wildlife Service will be affected.  Based on this no effect determination, no further coordination with the Fish and Wildlife Service is required.  In addition, no listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the ESA purview of National Marine Fisheries Service are known to occur in the action area.  However, the NMFS has listed the Chesapeake Bay distinct population segment (DPS) of the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) as an endangered species which has not been documented, but may occur, in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River.  The river could potentially be used by sturgeon to rest or feed while traveling to or from the Atlantic Ocean, though this may be unlikely due to the sand/mud substrate and shallow water depth adjacent to the project area.  The area of impact consists of tidal and non-tidal wetlands and since sturgeon spawn in areas with hard bottom substrates, there will be no impact to sturgeon spawning habitat.  The project footprint will not encroach past mean low water and as such no interaction with the sturgeon is anticipated.  The effects of construction activities in this area would be temporary in nature and would not affect any Atlantic sturgeon in the project area.  In summary, no affect will occur to the Atlantic sturgeon as no interaction with sturgeon is anticipated and the species will not be affected by the project due to the habitat affected by the project.  (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 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).   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: 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: or  The applicant has drafted a consistency certification and will submit it directly to DEQ-OEIR.

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 may contain Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the egg, larvae, juvenile, and/or adult life stages of eleven 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 occelatus), dusky shark (Charcharinus obscurus) and sandbar shark (Charcharinus plumbeus).  The habitat which this project would affect consists of intertidal wetlands.   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 fact that all work will be conducted landward of mean low water, and outside of the primary habitat for fish species.  Tidal wetlands will be filled by the placement of riprap, which will change potential spawning habitat, but the effects on EFH are not expected to be adverse.  Any indirect impacts will be short-term, occurring during construction and will cause only minimal increases in turbidity.  No changes in water temperature or salinity will be caused by the proposed work.  In addition, the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth currently has poor water quality.  Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary.  The Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River is also documented habitat/spawning for anadromous fish.  Time-of-year restrictions are not recommended as the work will be limited to wetlands, not waters, and indirect effects will be minimal for anadromous fish.

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on November 1, 2013.

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 Audrey Cotnoir at 757-549-8819 or



Peter Kube
Chief, Eastern Virginia Regulatory Section


Appendix B Project Description and Alternatives Analysis