FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE
Interested parties are hereby notified that an application has been received for a Department of the Army permit for certain work in waters of the United States as described below and shown on the attached drawings and plans.
Mr. John S. Williams
NEC America, Inc.
6535 N. State Hwy 161
Irving, TX 75039
Mr. Andrew M. Gayle
GTA (Teleguam Holdings LLC)
624 N. Marine Corps Drive
Tamuning, GU 96913
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:
The proposed project would be located Project corridor would be located within tidal waters of Piti Bay and Tepungan Channel, Philippine Sea, Pacific Ocean located off Pedro Santos Memorial Park in Piti, Guam. Center Coordinates: Latitude 13.46555 and Latitude 144.69316.
PROPOSED PROJECT AND PURPOSE:
NEC America Inc. and GTA (Teleguam Holdings LLC) propose to install six (6) new conduits to receive submarine fiber optic cables, and shortly after, land two new submarine cables in two of the conduits for the Southeast Asia‐U.S. (SEA‐US) telecommunication system linking Asia with Guam, Hawaii and California. The project is needed to complete the Guam link of the SEA‐US system with Asia and the rest of the U.S. The four spare conduits are needed to accommodate future cable landings anticipated by GTA. Project locations and details are depicted on the enclosed project plans (Enclosure 1).
The project would dredge/excavate a trench (3-feet deep by 6-feet wide by 405-feet long) on the reef flat, from mean high water (MHW) to the shoreward edge of the Tepungan Channel within a 36-foot-wide construction corridor. Six 4.8‐inch (outer) diameter ductile iron conduits would be installed in the trench. The trench would be backfilled with washed coarse aggregate stones and the excavated native reef material. A concrete bulkhead (6-
feet wide by 3-feet high by 10-feet long) would be installed via tremmie concrete methods at the conduit terminus to keep the conduits in place. An additional 155‐foot long trench would be excavated from MHW to a new upland beach manhole in Pedro G. Santos Memorial Park. Shortly after, two fiber‐optic marine cables, servicing Hawaii and the Philippines, would be landed through two of the conduits and pulled to shore where they would be spliced to land cables in the new beach manhole located above the high tide line. Articulated (split) pipe (6-inch diameter) would be placed over the cables from the proposed bulkhead to depths of -200 meter (656 feet) MLW. The cables would be selectively pinned, at approximately 20 locations, to the seabed with wing clamps at locations where no live corals are present. The submarine cable would be laid in a path to maximize use of sand bottom and to minimize impacts to hardbottom substrate. All live corals that can be relocated would be transplanted prior to the commencement of any work per the enclosed coral transplantation plan (Enclosure 2). Any other marine organisms within the construction corridor would be removed and relocated away from the construction activities. The proposed work is anticipated to take approximately 60 days to complete. Best management practices are detailed in the enclosed Environmental Protection Plan (EPP) (Enclosure 3).
Both temporary and permanent impacts to coral reef (hardbottom substrate) are anticipated with the proposed activities. The impacts are summarized as follows and detailed in Enclosure 4:
1. Direct but temporary impacts from the cable trench temporary erosion and sediment control measures (i.e. silt curtains, sandbags and rebar supports) is estimated to be 4,770.2 square feet (SF) (0.11-acre). These impacts would be temporary and the natural reestablishment of corals and marine organisms is anticipated.
2. Direct and long-term temporary impacts from the proposed cable trench would result from the excavation of 2,430 SF (0.06-acre) of coral reef flat, removing 223 cubic yards (CY) of reef material. Approximately 82.17 CY of coarse aggregate stone would be placed as bedding material under the conduits and covered with approximately 130.54 CY of the excavated reef material to restore the trench area to pre-construction grades. These impacts would have a long-term effect on aquatic resource functions, however, with the restoration of the site with native coral material and the eventual natural reestablishment of corals and marine organisms no permanent losses are anticipated.
3. Direct and permanent loss of coral reef hardbottom from the construction of the concrete bulkhead are estimated to 60 SF (0.0014-acre). The area would be excavated and filled with approximately 4.17 CY of marine grade concrete. It is anticipated that the concrete would attract coral reestablishment in the area, as corals have been documented to grow on concrete structures.
4. The two cables would have direct impacts to hardbottom and softbottom substrates where the cable are laid on the seafloor for over 66,000 linear feet from mean high water to the 3 nautical miles (nm) limit, which is the limits of Section 10 jurisdiction. The combined footprint of the two cables is estimated to impact 7745 SF (0.18-acre) of hardbottom substrate and 3302 SF (0.08-acre) of softbottom substrate. These impacts would be assessed as permanent impacts, but the natural reestablishment of corals on the articulated pipe and cables is anticipated.
5. Direct but temporary impacts within the 36-foot-wide by 405-foot-wide work corridor are anticipated as a result of the use of temporary elevated wooden platforms that would be placed on the reef flat to house the excavator and the use of a rock truck with rubber tires that would be traversing the reef to load and off-load excavated reef material on uplands. The temporary platforms would have two 6-inch wide by 24-foot-long steel support runners to minimize contact with the reef and would be lifted and leapfrogged as the excavator works its way down the corridor. The rock truck would have rubber tires and would be able to articulate its body to minimize impacts on the reef.
The applicant proposes to offset temporal loss of ecological function associated with the proposed activities by relocating/transplanting non-Leptastrea hard corals within and immediately adjacent to the cable trench corridor. The relocation would be followed by monitoring for survival of the relocated corals for 18-months. In order to offset the permanent placement of submarine cable structures on shallow hardbottom substrate with up to approximately 13% coral reef cover, the applicant is proposing contributions to a coral reef restoration program in the same watershed as the impact site.
A Department of the Army permit is required pursuant to:
X Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403) - To perform work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States.
X Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) - Discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. The Corps’ public interest review would consider the guidelines set forth under Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act (40 CFR 230).
Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1413) - Transport dredged material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters. The Corps’ public interest review would consider the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, as amended (40 CFR Parts 220 to 229), as appropriate.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION:
The proposed action would result in a discharge of a pollutant into a water of the U.S. and would require authorization from the Corps in accordance to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA). Under Section 401 of the CWA (Public Law 95-217), the Corps may not issue a permit for the described work until the applicant obtains a certification, or waiver of certification, from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT ACT CERTIFICATION:
The proposed activity would affect land or water uses in the Coastal Zone. Under Section 307(c)(3) of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended by 16 U.S.C. 1456(c)(3), the Corps may not issue a permit for the described work until the applicant obtains a Federal Consistency Concurrence from the Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans, Guam Coastal Management Program.
Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are located near, but not within, the permit area. Consultation with the Government of Guam Department of Parks and Recreation, Guam Historic Resources Division State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has been completed. On September 12, 2016, the SHPO concurred with the Corps’ determination that the proposed undertaking would have no adverse effect on historic properties listed or eligible for listing in the NRHP, as long as adherence to the proposed Archaeological, Monitoring, Identification, Evaluation, and Data Recovery Plan is required as a DA permit condition. Therefore, no further consultations with the SHPO would be conducted in conjunction with this public notice.
Pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), federal agencies must consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and/or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on any action that may affect a species listed (or proposed for listing) under the ESA as threatened or endangered or any designated critical habitat.
Based on the project location, the following protected near shore marine species under NMFS jurisdiction have the potential to occur near the project location: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Central West Pacific DPS (endangered), Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), (endangered), Indo-West Pacific DPS Scalloped Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini), (threatened), and threatened coral species (Acropora globiceps, Acropora retusa, and Seriatopora aculeata). No designated critical habitat exist in or adjacent to the project site. The proposed work may result in adverse impacts to listed coral species as they may be present in the project area. Listed sea turtles and sharks which infrequently traverse the project area, would be protected through proactive measures including pre-work visual surveys, monitoring, soft startups and stop work protocols in the event a sea turtle is recorded. The implementation of these BMPs in an area where sea turtles are rarely observed and where preferred nesting habitat is absent, implies that a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination is appropriate relative to the listed sea turtles and sharks. A separate consultation with NMFS Protected Resources Division would be conducted in conjunction with this public notice.
In October 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed 23 terrestrial plant and animal species from the Mariana Islands as threatened or endangered species under the
Endangered Species Act (ESA). General pedestrian surveys were conducted in September 2015 to assess the presence of terrestrial and avian fauna that may exist within the project sites. None of the listed species were found in the project area. There are no designated critical habitat areas within or adjacent to the project site. Preliminary determinations indicate that the described activity would not affect threatened or endangered terrestrial species. Consultation with USFWS under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (87 Stat. 844) is not required for the proposed activity.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT:
The proposed work is being evaluated for possible effects to Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) pursuant to The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), which 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. The Honolulu District includes areas of EFH as Fishery Management Plans. We have reviewed the January 20, 1999, Western Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Environmental Assessment to locate EFH area as identified by NMFS. Preliminary determinations indicate that the described activity would likely have an adverse effect on EFH. Therefore, a separate EFH consultation with NOAA would be conducted, under MSA, for the proposed activity.
FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION:
The decision whether to issue a permit would be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision would reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal would be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.
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 evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received would 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 also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests for public hearings shall state clearly and concisely, the reasons and rationale for holding a public hearing. The District Commander would then decide if a hearing should be held.
COMMENT AND REVIEW PERIOD:
Comments on this public notice should be made in writing via conventional mail or e-mail. Comments would be accepted and made part of the record and would be considered in
determining whether it would be in the public interest to authorize this proposal. Conventional mail comments should be sent to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District
Guam Regulatory Field Office, Attn: Katy Damico
Apra Harbor Naval Complex
PSC 455 Box 188
FPO, AP 96540-1088
Alternatively, comments may be emailed to Katy.R.Damico@usace.army.mil . Reference POH-2015-00172 in the subject heading of the email. In order to be accepted, e-mail comments must originate from the author’s e-mail account.
Both conventional mail and e-mail comments must include the DA permit number POH-2015-00172, and the commenter’s name, address, and phone number. All comments whether conventional mail or e-mail should be received by the close of business on DECEMBER 22, 2016.
PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY:
It should be noted that materials submitted as part of the permit application become part of the public record and are thus available to the general public under the procedures of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 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, please contact
Ms. Katy Damico in the Guam Regulatory Field Office via telephone at (671) 339-2108 or (808) 835-4160 or via email at Katy.R.Damico@usace.army.mil.