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POH-2011-00012

Published March 2, 2011
Expiration date: 4/2/2011

WATERWAY NAME: Pearl Harbor Defensive Sea Area, Oahu Island
Pearl Harbor Defensive Sea Area, Oahu Island

Interested parties are hereby notified that an application has been received for reauthorization of a Department of the Army General Permit for maintenance and construction dredging of the Pearl Harbor Defensive Sea Area and the disposal of suitable dredged material at the South Oahu Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site (SOODMDS) as described below and shown on the attached draft General Permit 2011-002.

APPLICANT: Navy Region Hawaii

AGENT: Department of the Navy, NAVFAC Pacific, Environmental Engineering Department

APPLICABLE STATUTORY AUTHORITIES: Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403); Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1413); 40 CFR 220-227; and with due consideration of the public interest and potential environmental effects following the issuance of this Public Notice.

PURPOSE: To authorize the U.S. Navy to continue maintenance and construction dredging within the Pearl Harbor Defensive Sea Area and to transport the dredged material to the EPA designated South Oahu Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site (SOODMDS), subject to certain conditions.

BACKGROUND:

        a. General Permit GP 2005-001, issued October 27, 2005 expired at midnite, October 27, 2010.
        b. In accordance with Parts 320, 322, 324, 325, 326 and 329 of Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the District Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu Engineer District (Corps) has determined that the general permit (GP 2005-001) issued to the U.S. Navy, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, on October 27, 2005 should be re-authorized for another five years. The specific terms and conditions under which the work will be performed are listed in the attached general permit (GP).
        c. If issued, the GP would re-authorize dredging in Pearl Harbor and disposing of suitable material at the EPA designated SOODMDS. If the GP is not re-authorized, individual projects would require individual permits. The reauthorized permit will continue to provide the benefits of the expired GP 2005-001, such as reducing delays, duplications, paperwork, and resource demands in preparing permit applications and permit processing. Reauthorization is also intended to enable prompt action and efficient scheduling of these minor activities, resulting in cost-savings to the Government. 
        d. 6 individual projects were authorized under General Permit 2005-001. 
        e. NEED FOR A FEDERAL EIS: The Corps’ permit regulation (33 CFR 320-330) provides that GPs can be issued only for activities that are substantially similar in nature, and that cause only minimal individual or cumulative adverse environmental impact. Based on a preliminary assessment of the prior projects authorized by the GP and subsequent monitoring data, the District Engineer has determined that reauthorization of this GP complies with these criteria and that activities authorized by the permit would not result individually or cumulatively in a significant effect on the natural or human environment. Therefore, under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347), a Federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will not be prepared.

IMPACTS OF ACTIVITIES IF AUTHORIZED BY GENERAL PERMIT GP 2011-002

Unavoidable impacts associated with dredging operations are an increase in turbidity in the vicinity of the dredge operations and temporary disruption to navigation. These will be mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. In addition, dredging has occurred in Pearl Harbor for many decades without adverse cumulative impacts.

The effect of ocean disposal of dredged material on the marine environment has also been addressed. Prior to designating the South Oahu Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site (and other Hawaii disposal sites), EPA Region IX prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the environmental impacts of ocean disposal of dredged material at these sites. The EIS for Hawaii Dredged Material Disposal Sites Designation, was published by EPA in September 1980. Additionally, a Site Management Plan (SMP) for the Hawaii Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Sites has been developed by the Corps and the EPA Region IX. The SMP took effect on April 7, 1997. Both documents are available for examination at the Regulatory Branch, Honolulu Engineer District, Building 214, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, telephone (808) 438-9258.

In summary, the EPA found that the “environmental consequences of deep-ocean disposal of dredged material are minimal.” This determination was based on review and interpretation of existing data on marine biota (including benthic organisms), the water column, socioeconomic (including commercial fisheries and recreation), and information on the effects of previous dredged material disposal activities. Examination of the 1980 EIS indicates that the conclusions remain valid. In addition, studies conducted for the development of the SMP indicates that the majority of dredged material remains where it is dumped and is not subject to significant remobilization and transport.

All dredged material proposed for ocean disposal is subject to rigorous analysis to determine its suitability for such disposal, pursuant to the 1991 Corps and EPA Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean Disposal (Testing Manual) and the Regional Implementation Manual (including approved modifications) to be published. Dredged material deemed suitable for ocean disposal will be approved to be disposed at the EPA SOODMDS.

IMPACT ON CULTURAL RESOURCES:

Naval Base Pearl Harbor was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and in 1974; it was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Dredging work within Pearl Harbor is not anticipated to have any adverse impacts because care will be exercise to ensure that historically significant sites are not disturbed. In addition, General Condition (b.) of the general permit requires work stoppage and notification in the event that items of potential historical or archaeological significance are discovered during activities authorized by the permit; therefore, no adverse impacts to these resources are expected.

This notice has been sent to the State Historic Preservation Officer, the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the National Park Service, the Aha Kiole Advisory Committee, and the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Any comments they have on cultural resources will be considered before a final decision is made on the proposed general permit extension.

IMPACT ON ENDANGERED SPECIES:

Issuance of this GP considered 3 stressors which have the potential to impact ESA-listed species: collision with project vessels, disturbance from human activities and equipment operation, and exposure to construction wastes and discharges. The project action areas are within 50 yards of any pier or dock and any in-water work vessels in the dredging area and within 100 yards of any work vessels as they transit to and from the designated ocean disposal area. The potential action area also includes the extent of any plumes that may result from inadvertent discharges of wastes, fuels, and lubricants from project-related machinery, equipment and supplies.

The Corps has assessed potential impacts to Federally-listed species, species proposed for listing, and designated critical habitats in Hawaiian waters. Based on the work proposed to be authorized under this GP and listed species expected to be present in or near the proposed action areas, we have determined that the proposed actions may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the following species as it has been determined that the potential impacts of stressors are expected to be insignificant and discountable.

        Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), threatened,
        Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate), endangered,
        Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) endangered,
        Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) endangered,

Work authorized under the GP will have no effect on any other ESA-listed marine species or designated critical habitat. The Corps has further determined that the project is within the scope of the Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species in the Central and Western Pacific Region (Pac-SLOPES). As such, each project under the GP would be covered under the programmatic informal consultation completed with NOAA PRD, under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), on 7 August 2010.

The GP is proposed to be issued under the Pac-SLOPES, with the inclusion of the following general and special conditions and Best Management Practices (BMPs) outlined in Pac-SLOPES and in accordance with the programmatic consultation:

        A. Protocol and operations measures for the avoidance and protection of humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals, green sea and hawksbill turtles and other protected species in active, mechanized equipment and boat areas of operation shall incorporate the following sitespecific avoidance and minimization measures:

                i. Surveys shall be made prior to the start of work each day, and periodically during the day, including prior to resumption of work following any break of more than one half hour.

                ii. All in-water work will be postponed or halted when ESA-listed marine species are within 100 feet of the disposal area, and will only begin/resume after the animals have voluntarily departed the area. If ESA-listed marine species are noticed after work has already begun, that work may continue only if there is no way for the activity to adversely affect the animal(s).

                iii. When piloting vessels, vessel operators shall alter course to remain at least 100 yards from whales, and at least 50 yards from other marine mammals and sea turtles.

                iv. Reduce vessel speed to 10 knots or less when piloting vessels in the proximity of marine mammals and turtles. If practicable, reduce vessel speed to 5 knots or less when piloting vessels in areas of known or suspected turtle activity.

                v. If approached by a marine mammal or turtle, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass.

                vi. Marine mammals and sea turtles should not be encircled or trapped between multiple vessels or between vessels and the shore.

                vii. Do not attempt to feed, touch, ride, or otherwise intentionally interact with any ESA-listed marine species,

        B. All on-site project personnel must be apprised of the status of any listed species potentially present in the project area and the protections afforded to those species under Federal laws. Information explaining laws and regulations for listed species in Hawaii may be downloaded at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot%20res/MMWatch/hawaii.htm. The project POC shall ensure that protocols and observers to avoid the potential for contact or harassment with ESA species of record are followed during all periods of in-water work.

        C. Records of observations of protected species observed in the project areas for the duration of in-water activities shall be maintained and submitted at the close of in-water activities.

D. Immediate notification to Mr. Don Hubner, <Donald.Hubner@noaa.gov>, Protected Resources Division, NMFS, PIRO, shall occur if: 1) a take occurs; 2) new information reveals effects of the action have affected listed species in a manner or to an extent not previously evaluated; 3) if the action is subsequently modified and causes effects to listed species in a manner or to an extent not previously considered or evaluated; or 4) a new species is listed or critical habitat is designated that may be affected by the authorized work.

The Corps requests comments and concurrence from NOAA PRD.

This notice has been sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service in accordance with Section 7, ESA. Any comments they have on endangered or threatened species, or their critical habitat, will be considered before a final decision is made on issuance of the proposed general permit.

IMPACT ON ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT:

The proposed work is being evaluated for potential effects to Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) pursuant to the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996 (MSFCMA), 16 U.S.C. et seq., and associated federal regulations found at 50 CFR 600 Subpart K. The Honolulu District includes areas of EFH as Fishery Management Plans. We have reviewed the January 20, 1999, Western Pacific Fishery Managements Council’s Environmental Assessment to locate EFH areas as identified by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). We have determined that the marine environment lying seaward of the shoreline may include EFH consisting of typical fringing reef components which contribute to maintenance of fisheries. However, activities to be authorized by issuance of GP2011-002 would only include dredging of existing shoals and the authorization to transport suitable dredged material to the EPA SOODMDS. No other discharge of dredged material is authorized at any other aquatic site. Due to this restricted scope of work and based on the required use of Best Management Practices to avoid and minimize to dredge sites, the activities to be authorized are not expected to cause adverse impacts, either individually or cumulatively, on any seaward EFH.

This notice is being sent to the NMFS to fulfill coordination requirements of the MSFCMA. Any conservation recommendations NMFS makes concerning EFH will be considered before a final decision is made on the proposed issuance of the GP. The Corps request concurrence with our determination and comments from NMFS HCD.

OTHER GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZATIONS/CERTIFICATIONS: The Applicant is obligated by the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 15, Section 930.35(d) to provide notification of Negative Determination to the Office of Coastal Zone Management, Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism regarding the Hawaii Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program.

EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision to reauthorize the general permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will 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 will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, historic values, fish and wildlife values, flood damage prevention, land use, navigation, recreation, water supply, water quality, energy needs, safety, food production and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.

COMMENTS AND INQUIRIES: Interested parties may submit in writing any comments that they have on the proposed reauthorization of the general permit. Comments should be forwarded so as to reach this District no later than 30 days from the date of this notice. Written inquiries and comments should be mailed to this District at the address indicated in the letterhead and should refer to . Please contact Farley K. Watanabe at 808-438-7701 if further information is desired concerning this notice. Electronic comments by e-mail can be posted at . Facsimile comments can be sent to 808-438-4060.

It is Corps of Engineers policy that any objections will be forwarded to the applicant for comment or rebuttal before the objection is resolved. If the objecting party so requests, all personal information will be deleted from the forwarded letter, or the objections will be sent in paraphrased, summary form.

ADDITIONAL PUBLIC NOTICE: Additional notice(s) will be issued if there are substantial changes in the proposed GP. If the general permit is reauthorized, a public notice announcing the reauthorization will include a copy of the general permit, including final terms and conditions.

REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this notice that a public hearing be held to consider the proposed general permit reauthorization. Requests for public hearing shall state clearly and concisely, the reasons and rationale for wanting to hold a public hearing.

A copy of the draft GP-2011-002 is attached to this public notice.


Contact Information

Regulatory Office
Building 252
Fort Shafter, HI  96858-5440
(808) 835-4303
CEPOH-RO@usace.army.mil 

Guam Field Office
Apra Harbor Naval Complex
PSC 455 Box 188
FPO, AP 96540-1088  Guam
(671) 339-2108 
CEPOH-RO@usace.army.mil

Civil and Public Works Branch

Civil and Public Works Branch

Bldg. 230 Fort Shafter, HI 96858