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 and Deep Creek, tributaries 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 2014/2015, and the purpose of the project is to stabilize the remainder of the perimeter shoreline with a long term, low maintenance solution that minimizes environmental impacts. Previously permitted shoreline stabilization work was completed in 2010 in two areas on the property, and shoreline work for Priority 1 is currently under construction. The current application is for work proposed in Priority Areas 2 and 3 and the South Dike Area:
Priority Area 2 (Canal)- Priority Area 2 is approximately 2,350 linear feet long and is located on the man-made tidal discharge canal along the west side of the site. The stabilization of Priority 2 Area involves placing a rock fill buttress along the toe of the existing slope below 3.0 above mean sea level. The portion of the existing slope above the buttress will be flattened and additional riprap will be placed on the slope from the top of the buttress up to 10.0 above mean sea level to provide erosion protection during high water events. Average channelward encroachment of the riprap is 22 feet channelward of mean high water (MHW), 16 feet channelward of mean low water (MLW) with maximum channelward encroachments of 35 feet from MHW and 29 feet from MLW. Impacts to waters are proposed as:
· Tidal wetlands- 1,600 square feet (0.036 acres) (w/in 1.5 times mean tidal range)
· Intertidal waters- 15,910 square feet (0.365 acres)
· Subtidal waters- 36,800 square feet (0.844 acre)
Priority Area 3 (Southern Branch)- Priority Area 3 is approximately 1,450 linear feet along the east side of the CEC property, immediately south of Priority Area 1, along the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The stabilization of Priority Area 3 involves flattening the existing slope and installing riprap erosion protection. All work will occur landward of mean high water. Impacts to wetlands (tidal consisting of a mix of primarily Spartina alterniflora, Spartina patens, and non-tidal wetlands consisting primarily of Phragmites australis) will be impacted by the riprap and fill are proposed as:
· Tidal wetlands - 840 square feet (0.019)
· Non-tidal wetlands- 44,800 square feet (1.03 acres)
South Dike (Deep Creek)- The South Dike is approximately 205 linear feet along the south side of the CEC property, near the Bottom Ash Pond 24-inch diameter outfall pipe. The toe of the slope around the outfall pipe has experienced some erosion. The stabilization of the South Dike involves placing riprap at the toe to reestablish a stable slope. All work will occur landward of MLW. The average channelward encroachment of the riprap is 2 feet channelward of MHW and the maximum channelward encroachment is 6 feet from MHW. Impacts to wetlands (tidal consisting of a mix of primarily Spartina alterniflora, Spartina patens, and non-tidal wetlands consisting primarily of Phragmites australis) will be impacted by the riprap and fill are proposed as:
· Tidal wetlands - 1,750 square feet (0.040 acre)
· Non-tidal wetlands- 2,050 square feet (0.047 acre)
Total Impacts to waters/wetlands from the overall project are:
· Intertidal- 15,910 square feet (0.365 acres)
· Subtidal- 36,800 square feet (0.844 acres)
· Tidal wetlands- 4,190 square feet (0.096 acres)
· Non-tidal- 46,850 square feet (1.07 acre)
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 4,190 square feet (0.096 acres) of credits (1:1 ratio) from the Libertyville Road Tidal Mitigation Bank. For non-tidal wetlands compensation, the applicant plans to purchase 46,850 square feet (1.07 acres) of credits (1:1) from the Great Dismal Swamp Restoration Bank- Lewis Farm. No mitigation is proposed for impacts to intertidal and subaqueous waters in the man-made tidal canal on the west side (Priority Area 2).
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.”
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 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. 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 in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and Deep Creek, 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; 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 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; however the applicant has submitted a consistency certification to the Office of Environmental Impact Review for concurrence or objection. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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 Sept. 4, 2014.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR THE DISTRICT COMMANDER:
Chief, Eastern Virginia Regulatory Section