Re-Issuance of a General Permit to the National Science Foundation for the Ocean Disposal of Man-Made Ice Piers From McMurdo Station in Antarctica; Proposed Permit, 26721-26725 [2011-11211]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 89 / Monday, May 9, 2011 / Notices Any member of the public wishing to obtain general information concerning the public teleconference may contact Dr. Holly Stallworth, Designated Federal Officer (DFO), EPA Science Advisory Board via e-mail at stallworth.holly@epa.gov, telephone/ voice mail (202) 564–2073, or fax (202) 565–2098. General information concerning the EPA Science Advisory Board can be found on the EPA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/sab. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The SAB was established pursuant to the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act (ERDAA), codified at 42 U.S.C. 4365, to provide independent scientific and technical advice to the EPA Administrator on the technical basis for Agency positions and regulations. The SAB is a Federal Advisory Committee chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), 5 U.S.C., App. 2. Pursuant to FACA and EPA policy, notice is hereby given that the SAB will hold a public teleconference to conduct a quality review of a draft report entitled ‘‘SAB Review of Valuing Mortality Risk Reductions for Environmental Policy.’’ The SAB will comply with the provisions of FACA and all appropriate SAB Staff Office procedural policies. Background: The SAB was asked to review and provide advice to EPA on a draft White Paper, entitled ‘‘Valuing Mortality Risk Reductions for Environmental Policy: A White Paper’’ (December 2010). To conduct this review, the SAB Staff Office requested public nominations of experts (74 FR 32607–32608) and augmented the SAB Environmental Economics Advisory Committee. The Environmental Economics Advisory Committee Augmented for Valuing Mortality Risk Reduction held a face-to-face public meeting on January 20–21, 2011 (75 FR 80048–80049) and a public teleconference on March 14, 2011 (76 FR 11242–11243). The SAB will conduct a quality review of the Panel’s draft report. Background information about this SAB advisory activity can be found on the SAB Web site at http:// yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/ fedrgstr_activites/Mortality%20Risk%20 Valuation?OpenDocument. Availability of Meeting Materials: The agenda and other materials in support of the teleconference will be placed on the SAB Web site at http://www.epa.gov/sab in advance of the teleconference. Procedures for Providing Public Input: Public comment for consideration by EPA’s Federal advisory committees and panels has a different purpose from WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:23 May 06, 2011 Jkt 223001 public comment provided to EPA program offices. Therefore, the process for submitting comments to a Federal advisory committee is different from the process used to submit comments to an EPA program office. Federal advisory committees and panels, including scientific advisory committees, provide independent advice to EPA. Members of the public can submit comments for a Federal advisory committee to consider as it develops advice for EPA. Input from the public to the SAB will have the most impact if it provides specific scientific or technical information or analysis for SAB panels to consider or if it relates to the clarity or accuracy of the technical information. Members of the public wishing to provide comment should contact the Designated Federal Officer directly. Oral Statements: Individuals or groups requesting an oral presentation will be limited to three minutes. Those interested in being placed on the public speaker list for the June 7, 2011 teleconference should contact Dr. Stallworth at the contact information provided above no later than June 1, 2011. Written Statements: Written statements should be supplied to the DFO via e-mail at the contact information noted above by June 1, 2011 for the teleconference so that the information may be made available to the Panel members for their consideration. Written statements should be supplied in one of the following electronic formats: Adobe Acrobat PDF, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, or Rich Text files in IBM– PC/Windows 98/2000/XP format. It is the SAB Staff Office general policy to post written comments on the Web page for the advisory meeting or teleconference. Submitters are requested to provide an unsigned version of each document because the SAB Staff Office does not publish documents with signatures on its Web sites. Members of the public should be aware that their personal contact information, if included in any written comments, may be posted to the SAB Web site. Copyrighted material will not be posted without explicit permission of the copyright holder. Accessibility: For information on access or services for individuals with disabilities, please contact Dr. Stallworth at (202) 564–2073 or stallworth.holly@epa.gov. To request accommodation of a disability, please contact Dr. Stallworth preferably at least ten days prior to the teleconference to give EPA as much time as possible to process your request. PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 26721 Dated: May 3, 2011. Anthony Maciorowski, Deputy Director, EPA Science Advisory Staff Office. [FR Doc. 2011–11209 Filed 5–6–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL–9302–9] Re-Issuance of a General Permit to the National Science Foundation for the Ocean Disposal of Man-Made Ice Piers From McMurdo Station in Antarctica; Proposed Permit Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: EPA proposes to re-issue a permit authorizing the National Science Foundation (NSF) to dispose of ice piers in ocean waters. Permit re-issuance is necessary because the current permit has expired. EPA does not propose changes to the content of the permit because ocean disposal under the terms of the previous permit will continue to meet the ocean disposal criteria. DATES: Written comments on this proposed general permit will be accepted until June 8, 2011. All comments must be received or postmarked by midnight of June 8, 2011, or must be delivered by hand by the close of business of that date to the address specified below. ADDRESSES: This proposed permit is identified as Docket No. EPA–HQ–OW– 2011–0306. Submit your comments by one of the following methods: Mail: Send an original and three copies of your comments and enclosures (including references) to Water Docket, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code: 2822–IT, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket No. EPA–HQ–OW– 2011–0306. Hand delivery: EPA Water Docket, EPA Docket Center, EPA West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460, Docket No. EPA–HQ–OW–2011–0306. Deliveries to the docket are accepted only during their normal hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. For access to docket materials, call: 202/566–2426, to schedule an appointment. E- mail: ow-docket@epa.gov; Attention Docket No. EPA–HQ–OW– 2011–0306. To ensure that EPA can properly respond to comments, SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\09MYN1.SGM 09MYN1 26722 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 89 / Monday, May 9, 2011 / Notices commenters should cite the paragraph(s) or sections in the proposed permit to which each comment refers. Commenters should use a separate paragraph for each issue discussed, and must submit any references cited in their comments. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment. Electronic files should avoid any form of encryption and should be free of any defects or viruses. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Amson, Senior Marine Scientist, Marine Pollution Control Branch, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division (4504T), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone: 202/566–1276. On February 14, 2003, EPA issued a general permit to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for ocean disposal of man-made ice piers from its base at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. This ocean dumping permit had a term of seven years. It remains in effect under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 558(c), after its February 18, 2010 expiration because NSF applied for reissuance prior to expiration. The purpose of today’s proposed general permit is to re-issue the 2003 permit for another seven-year period. The reissued permit will allow the NSF to ocean dispose the ice pier currently in use at McMurdo Station, which is at the end of its service life. EPA proposes to re-issue the general permit under Sections 102(a) and 104(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) to authorize the NSF to dispose of man-made ice piers in ocean waters from McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The NSF is the entity of the United States Government responsible for oversight of the United States Antarctic Program. The NSF currently operates three major bases in Antarctica: McMurdo Station on Ross Island, adjacent to McMurdo Sound; Palmer Station, near the western terminus of the Antarctic Peninsula; and Amundsen-Scott Station, at the geographic South Pole. McMurdo Station is the largest of the three bases, and serves as the primary logistics base for Antarctica. The great majority of personnel and supplies destined for the three stations are unloaded at, and pass through, McMurdo Station. To unload supplies, ships dock at an ice pier. Manmade ice piers have a normal life span of three to five years; the current ice pier, constructed in 1999, is over ten WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:23 May 06, 2011 Jkt 223001 years old, and is effectively at the end of its service life. When an ice pier is at the end of its effective life, all transportable equipment, materials, and debris are removed; the pier is cast loose from its moorings at the base. It is then towed out to McMurdo Sound for disposal, where it disintegrates naturally. Reissuance of this general permit is necessary because the pier must be towed out to sea for disposal at the end of its effective life. This proposed general permit is intended to protect the marine environment by setting forth specific permit terms and conditions including operating conditions that occur over the life of the pier. It also describes required clean-up actions that the NSF must comply with before the disposal of any ice pier can take place. A. Background on McMurdo Station Ice Pier For background information on the McMurdo Station ice pier, the reader is referred to the Federal Register notice of January 7, 2003 (68 FR 775–780), which is hereby incorporated by reference into this notice. None of the stipulated facts of Section A (‘‘Background on McMurdo Station Ice Pier’’) of the January 7, 2003, notice have changed since its issuance on that date. The materials to be dumped (other than the ice in the pier itself, which melts naturally) include materials used in construction of the ice pier that cannot be removed prior to disposal. As explained in the January 7, 2003, notice, construction of an ice pier at McMurdo Station involves the following types and approximate quantities of materials that are normally used: (a) 6,300 m (21,000 ft) of one-inch steel cable; (b) 200 m (650 ft) of twoinch steel pipe; (c) three or four chemically-untreated wooden utility poles approximately one-foot in diameter, (d) several steel bollards; and (e) 4,200 cubic meters (5,000 cubic yards) of gravel, 2 cm or smaller in size. When the pier has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer capable of being used during the next operating season, the wooden poles are cut off just above the surface of the ice, the steel bollards are blasted loose and removed, the gravel is scraped off and stored for use during the next operating season, all transportable equipment, materials, and debris are removed, and the pier is separated from its attachment at McMurdo Station at the end of the austral summer. It is then towed by a ship into McMurdo Sound past the northern end of the open channel in the ice, as close to the Ross Sea currents as possible. The pier is cast loose in a direction to allow it to flow with the PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Ross Sea currents, away from the open channel in the ice. The pier will then float amidst the ice pack, where it mixes with the annual Antarctic sea ice, and eventually disintegrates. B. Statutory and Regulatory Background 1. Obligations Under United States Law Section 102(a) of the MPRSA, 33 U.S.C. 1412(a), requires that agencies or instrumentalities of the United States obtain a permit to transport any material from any location for the purpose of dumping into ocean waters. MPRSA Section 104(c), 33 U.S.C. 1414(c), and EPA regulations at 40 CFR 220.3(a) authorize the issuance of a general permit under the MPRSA for the dumping of materials which have a minimal adverse environmental impact, and are generally disposed of in small quantities. The proposed towing of ice piers by the NSF from McMurdo Station for disposal at sea constitutes transportation of material for the purpose of dumping in ocean waters; thus, it is subject to the requirements of the MPRSA. Ocean disposal of the materials incorporated into the ice pier will have a minimal adverse environmental impact, and represents comparatively small quantities of nonrecoverable, non-ice matter. The NSF has completed a United States Antarctic Program (USAP) Environmental Impact Statement (June 1980), a USAP Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (October 1991), and an Initial Environmental Evaluation (May 1992). More recently, the NSF has issued two Records of Environmental Review: Installation of Freeze Cells in Ice Piers (1998), and Use of Freeze Cells in Ice Piers to Repair Cracks (2000). All these documents address various aspects of the construction, operation, and disposal of ice piers at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, and are available for review at the Office of Polar Programs of the NSF, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. (For further information, contact Polly Penhale, at 703/292–7420). None of these documents identified any potential environmental impacts from the disposal of ice piers, other than the minor navigational hazard equivalent to that posed by an ice floe or a small iceberg. The Agency considered the analyses contained in the five documents in developing this proposed re-issuance of the general permit for the NSF. E:\FR\FM\09MYN1.SGM 09MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 89 / Monday, May 9, 2011 / Notices 2. Obligations Under International Law The Antarctic Science, Tourism, and Conservation Act of 1996 amended the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978. This law is designed to implement the provisions of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (‘‘the Protocol’’). The United States Senate ratified the Protocol on April 17, 1997, and it entered into force on January 18, 1998. The Protocol builds on the Antarctic Treaty to extend its effectiveness as a mechanism for ensuring protection of the Antarctic environment. It designates Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science, and sets forth basic principles as well as detailed mandatory rules that are applicable to human activities in Antarctica. It prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources on the continent, except for scientific research. It commits signatories (known as Parties) to the Protocol to complete environmental impact assessment procedures for proposed activities, both governmental and private. Among other things, it requires Parties to protect Antarctic flora and fauna, and it imposes strict limitations on disposal of wastes on the continent, as well as discharges of pollutants in Antarctic waters. Several sets of regulations exist that assist in the implementation of the Protocol. These include: (a) NSF regulations regarding environmental impact assessment of proposed Foundation actions in Antarctica (45 CFR Part 641), (b) NSF waste regulations for Antarctica (45 CFR Part 671), and (c) EPA regulations regarding environmental impact assessment of non-governmental activities in Antarctica (40 CFR Part 8). EPA’s proposal to re-issue a general permit under the MPRSA does not conflict with obligations under the Protocol and any implementing legislation. EPA has coordinated with other responsible authorities, as appropriate, in EPA’s consideration of the issuance of a general permit under the MPRSA. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES C. Potential Effects of Ice Pier Disposal EPA’s findings regarding (a) the fate of materials disposed in the ocean, (b) the potential effects of ice pier disposal on organisms in the polar marine environment, such as cetaceans (whales), pinnipeds (seals), avian species, and endangered or threatened species, and (c) environmental concerns associated with any operational discharges, leaks, or spills that may have contaminated the surface of the ice pier over the period of its existence are VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:23 May 06, 2011 Jkt 223001 explained in Section C of the January 7, 2003, notice, and have not changed, with one exception. That exception is the updated spill prevention, control, and countermeasures (SPCC) plan, which is described below. EPA notes that the NSF has a SPCC plan for all the stations and bases under NSF jurisdiction in Antarctica. That plan, initially formulated in 1994, has been updated by NSF, and is titled: SPCC Plan for McMurdo Station, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica; the final document is dated January 7, 2010. The SPCC plan includes a section addressing fuel storage and transfer systems for the ice pier at McMurdo Station. EPA adopts the findings from the January 7, 2010, notice in its proposed permit today. D. Discussion This new general permit that EPA proposes to re-issue to NSF and its agents for the ocean dumping of manmade ice piers from NSF’s McMurdo Station, Antarctica, is subject to specific conditions. This proposed general permit applies only to the ocean dumping of man-made ice piers from the NSF base at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Agents of the NSF are included in the permit because transportation for the purpose of dumping an ice pier may be by vessels which are not under the direct ownership or operational control of the NSF. Section 104(a) of the MPRSA provides that permits shall be issued for a period not to exceed seven years (33 U.S.C. 1414(a)); thus, the term of this proposed permit is limited to seven years from the date of issuance. With the institution of new protective measures, such as longer length hoses for unloading petroleum products from the annual supply tanker, and new precautions taken in the handling and return to bases outside of Antarctica of used and contaminated chemicals, solvents, and hazardous materials, the chance of a spill or discharge of these materials is low. There is considerable vehicular traffic on the ice pier during the austral summer season, and the possibility of leaks or discharges from these vehicles cannot be totally avoided. However, the NSF has informed EPA that vehicles are parked on the pier for only brief periods of time, ranging from a few minutes to less than an hour, and that no vehicles are ever parked on the pier overnight. Additionally, such small discharges are typically contained within the temporary gravel cover, which is removed prior to ocean disposal. The proposed general permit establishes several specific conditions PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 26723 that shall be met during the life of, and prior to the dumping of, the ice pier. In addition, it requires the NSF to report by June 30 of every year to the Director of the Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, in EPA’s Office of Water, on any spills, discharges, or clean-up procedures on the ice pier, and on any dumping of ice piers from McMurdo Station that are conducted under this general permit. This general permit requires that the NSF have an SPCC plan in place for the ice pier. This plan must address (specified in Item 1 in the permit): (a) The unloading of petroleum products from supply tankers to the storage tanks at McMurdo Station; (b) The unloading of drummed chemicals, petroleum products, and material from cargo freighters to supply depots at McMurdo Station; and (c) The loading of materials to freighters that are destined to be returned to bases outside of Antarctica. The proposed permit requires that the SPCC plan include methods to minimize the accidental release or discharge of any products to the ice pier. In addition, the proposed general permit requires that the following cleanup and reporting procedures must be followed by NSF in the event of a spill or discharge on the pier (specified in Item 2 in the permit): (a) All spills or discharges must be cleaned up within two hours of the spill or discharge, or as soon as possible thereafter; (b) If a spill or discharge occurs, clean-up procedures must be completed to a level below any visible evidence of the spill or discharge; (c) As part of normal permit monitoring requirements, an official record of the following information shall be kept by NSF (specified in Item 3 in the permit): (1) The date and time of all spills or discharges, the location of the spill or discharge, the approximate volume of the spill or discharge, the clean-up procedures employed, and the results of those procedures; (2) The number of wooden poles remaining in the pier at the time of release from McMurdo Station, and their approximate length; (3) The approximate length of the steel cables remaining in the pier at the time of its release; (4) Any other non-ice substances remaining on the pier at the time of its release; and (5) The date of detachment of the pier from McMurdo Station, and the geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the point of final release of E:\FR\FM\09MYN1.SGM 09MYN1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES 26724 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 89 / Monday, May 9, 2011 / Notices the pier in McMurdo Sound or the Antarctic Sea. (d) A copy of this record shall be submitted to the Director of the Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, in the Office of Water, at EPA Headquarters, by June 30 of every year as part of the annual reporting requirements. The conditions specified in the proposed permit are intended to protect the Antarctic environment against release of contaminants from the McMurdo Station ice pier following its ocean dumping and subsequent disintegration and melting. Furthermore, the NSF is directed, as a condition of this permit, to utilize a methodology to track any ice piers released from McMurdo Station for a period of one year from the date of release of the pier (specified in Item 5(c) of the permit). Such methodologies may include the use of satellite-tracked pingers placed on the ice pier, or any other methodology that will allow data to be collected on the course, speed, and location of the released ice pier. The results of these tracking efforts shall be included in the reports that NSF is required to submit to EPA. The period of one year was chosen by EPA for several reasons. First, batteries for pinger-tracking operations beyond a period of one year become considerably heavier and bulkier (and a greater source of pollution to the marine environment when the ice pier eventually disintegrates and melts); and second, one year’s tracking measurements should provide substantial evidence about the geographic track of ice piers during the disintegration process. The NSF shall submit tracking reports to EPA for all releases of ice piers from McMurdo Station under this permit. If tracking results demonstrate that all ice piers released have generally followed the same geographic path and time of disintegration for the one year following release, EPA will consider whether further tracking efforts and reports shall be required from NSF in any future issuances of this permit. EPA received the tracking records from NSF of the last release of an ice pier from McMurdo Station. The pier was released on February 14, 1999, and travelled in a generally northern direction into the Southern Ocean; it was tracked until the pinger signal was lost on December 7, 1999. However, the ice pier only showed movement from the time of its release until May 1, 1999; from that time until December 7th, there was no further travel of the pier, and it is assumed it was frozen into the Antarctic ice pack. The following table provides information on the path of the VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:23 May 06, 2011 Jkt 223001 ice pier from February 14 to May 1, 1999: Date February 14, 1999 February 28, 1999 March 15, 1999 March 30, 1999 April 10, 1999 April 20, 1999 May 1, 1999 Latitude Longitude 77.75° S. 166.37° E. 76.92° S. 162.90° E. 75.43° S. 167.35° E. 73.48° S. 170.91° E. 70.77° S. 169.46° E. 70.53° S. 168.06° E. 70.38° S. 167.22° E. Using a great circle distance calculator, it can be determined that, from the time of its release until the pier was frozen into the ice pack, the ice pier travelled a total distance of 526 statute miles, or 457 nautical miles. Considering that any contaminants remaining on the surface of the pier are expected to be extremely small, and that the area over which the disintegration and melting of the piers is immense (and probably incalculable), the potential for damage to the environment from the ocean dumping of ice piers from McMurdo Station, in Antarctica, is minimal. In addition, the possibility of entanglement of any large organisms in suspended loops of cable from the melting piers has been determined by EPA to be very minimal; further discussion of this issue can be found in ‘‘C. Potential Effects of Ice Pier Disposal’’, in the January 7, 2003 notice. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. Paperwork Reduction Act The Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., is intended to minimize the reporting and recordkeeping burden on the regulated community, as well as to minimize the cost of Federal information collection and dissemination. In general, the Act requires that information requests and record-keeping requirements affecting ten or more non-Federal respondents be approved by the Office of Management and Budget. Since this proposed general permit affects only a single Federal agency’s record-keeping and reporting requirements, it is not subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. B. Endangered Species Act The Endangered Species Act (ESA) imposes duties on Federal agencies regarding endangered species of fish, wildlife, or plants and habitat of such species that have been designated as PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 critical. Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR Part 402) require EPA to ensure, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior or Commerce, that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by EPA in the United States or upon the high seas, is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species, or adversely affect their critical habitat. In compliance with Section 7 of the ESA, an endangered species list for the affected area of ocean dumping of ice piers from the NSF facility at McMurdo Station in Antarctica was requested by EPA and received from both the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) of the Department of the Interior, and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. No endangered, threatened, or candidate species are reported to potentially occur in the affected area. EPA has discussed this matter with both the USF&WS and the NMFS pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA, and both agencies have agreed that the ocean dumping of ice piers by the NSF or its agents from McMurdo Station in Antarctica will have no effect on endangered or threatened species. EPA will consider any comments offered by either the USF&WS or the NMFS on this issue before promulgating a final general permit on the ocean dumping of ice piers. Dated: May 3, 2011. Paul Cough, Director, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division. Paul Cough, Director, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division. EPA proposes to re-issue a general permit for the NSF as follows: Disposal of Ice Piers From McMurdo Station, Antarctica The U.S. National Science Foundation and its agents are hereby granted a general permit under Sections 102(a) and 104(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, 33 U.S.C. 1412(a) and 1414(c), to transport ice piers from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, for the purpose of ocean dumping, subject to the following conditions: (1) The NSF shall have a spill prevention, control, and countermeasures (SPCC) plan in place, for the McMurdo Station ice pier. The SPCC plan shall address procedures for loading and unloading the following materials, and shall include methods to minimize the accidental release or E:\FR\FM\09MYN1.SGM 09MYN1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 89 / Monday, May 9, 2011 / Notices discharge of any of these materials to the ice pier: (a) Petroleum products unloaded from supply tankers to storage tanks at McMurdo Station; (b) Drummed chemicals, petroleum products, and all materials unloaded from cargo freighters to supply depots at McMurdo Station; and (c) All materials loaded to freighters destined to be returned to bases outside Antarctica. (2) If a spill or discharge occurs on an ice pier, clean-up procedures must be completed by NSF or its contractors to a level below any visible evidence of the spill or discharge. All spills or discharges on an ice pier must be cleaned up within two hours of the spill or discharge, unless circumstances prevent cleanup within that time frame. In that event, the spill or discharge shall be cleaned up as soon as possible thereafter. (3) As part of normal monitoring requirements, a record of the following information shall be kept by NSF: (a) The date and time of all spills or discharges, the location of the spill or discharge, a description of the material that was spilled or discharged, the approximate volume of the spill or discharge, clean-up procedures employed, and the results of those procedures; (b) The number of wooden poles remaining in the pier at the time of its release from McMurdo Station, and their approximate length; (c) The approximate length of the steel cables remaining in the pier at the time of its release from McMurdo Station; (d) Any other non-ice materials remaining on the pier at the time of its release from McMurdo Station; and (e) The date of detachment of the pier from McMurdo Station, and the geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the point of final release of the pier in McMurdo Sound or the Antarctic Sea. (4) The non-embedded ends of all wooden utility poles or bollards shall be cut off from the ice pier prior to disposal, and shall not be disposed of in the ocean. (5) Prior to the ocean dumping of any ice piers, the NSF shall take the following actions: (a) Other than the matter physically embedded in the ice pier (such as the ends of wooden light poles frozen in the pier, and the strengthening steel cables), all other objects (including the nonembedded portions of the wooden poles used for lighting, power, or telephone connections, and any removable cables, equipment debris, or objects of VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:23 May 06, 2011 Jkt 223001 anthropogenic origin), shall be removed from the ice pier prior to dumping; (b) The gravel non-slip surface of the ice pier shall be removed to the maximum extent possible, and shall be stored on the mainland for subsequent use during the next operating season; and (c) A methodology to track any ice piers released from McMurdo Station shall be established and utilized for a period of one year from the date of release of the ice pier. The results of these tracking efforts shall be included in the annual reports that the NSF is required to submit to the Agency. (6) The NSF shall submit a report by June 30 of every year to the Director, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, Office of Water, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20460, on: (a) Any spills, discharges, or clean-up procedures on the ice pier at McMurdo Station; (b) Any ocean dumping of ice piers from McMurdo Station; and (c) Any tracking efforts of ice piers released from McMurdo Station under this general permit, for the year preceding the date of the annual report. (7) For the purpose of this permit, the term ‘‘ice pier(s)’’ means those manmade ice structures containing embedded steel cable, wooden pole ends, and any remaining gravel frozen into the surface of the pier, that are constructed at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, for the purpose of offloading the annual provisions of fuel, supplies, and materiel for use by NSF activities in Antarctica, as well as for the purpose of loading the previous year’s accumulation of wastes, which can be returned to the United States for recycling and disposal. (8) This permit shall be valid until (month)(day), 2018. [FR Doc. 2011–11211 Filed 5–6–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL–9303–3] Notice of a Regional Project Waiver of Section 1605 (Buy American) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to the City of South Burlington, VT Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The EPA is hereby granting a waiver of the Buy American requirements of ARRA Section 1605 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 26725 under the authority of Section 1605(b)(1) [inconsistent with the public interest] to the City of South Burlington, Vermont (‘‘City’’) for the installation of two specific turbo aeration blower units for the City’s Airport Parkway Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade project. This is a project specific waiver and only applies to the use of the specified products for the ARRA project under construction. Any other ARRA recipient that wishes to use the same products must apply for a separate waiver based on project specific circumstances. The City was provided written representations by the manufacturer (K Turbo USA) during 2009 and early 2010 that the turbo aeration blower units being supplied would be substantially transformed in the United States and would be in compliance with the Buy American provisions of ARRA. However, as a result of a recent on-going criminal investigation, the written representations provided by the manufacturer that the specified aeration blowers units had undergone substantial transformation in the United States have been questioned. Based on the information provided by the City, EPA agrees with the City that, if the K–Turbo units in question are determined to be non-American made, requiring the installation of domestically manufactured turbo aeration blower units will extend the time frame of the project by approximately five months due to the redesign, procurement, submittal delivery, submittal review, fabrication, delivery, and replacement of the aeration blower installation at the construction site. This delay is inconsistent with the public interest, and a waiver of the Buy American provisions in these circumstances is justified. The Regional Administrator is making this determination based on the review and recommendations of the Municipal Assistance Unit. The Assistant Administrator of the Office of Administration and Resources Management has concurred on this decision to make an exception to the requirements of Section 1605(a) of ARRA. This action allows the installation of the two specified turbo aeration blower units that have already been delivered to the construction site as noted in the City’s March 31, 2011 request. DATES: Effective Date: May 9, 2011. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Katie Connors, Environmental Engineer, (617) 918–1658, or, David Chin, Environmental Engineer, (617) 918– 1764, Municipal Assistance Unit (CMU), Office of Ecosystem Protection (OEP), E:\FR\FM\09MYN1.SGM 09MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 89 (Monday, May 9, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 26721-26725]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-11211]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[FRL-9302-9]


Re-Issuance of a General Permit to the National Science 
Foundation for the Ocean Disposal of Man-Made Ice Piers From McMurdo 
Station in Antarctica; Proposed Permit

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: EPA proposes to re-issue a permit authorizing the National 
Science Foundation (NSF) to dispose of ice piers in ocean waters. 
Permit re-issuance is necessary because the current permit has expired. 
EPA does not propose changes to the content of the permit because ocean 
disposal under the terms of the previous permit will continue to meet 
the ocean disposal criteria.

DATES: Written comments on this proposed general permit will be 
accepted until June 8, 2011. All comments must be received or 
postmarked by midnight of June 8, 2011, or must be delivered by hand by 
the close of business of that date to the address specified below.

ADDRESSES: This proposed permit is identified as Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-
2011-0306. Submit your comments by one of the following methods:
    Mail: Send an original and three copies of your comments and 
enclosures (including references) to Water Docket, U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency, Mail Code: 2822-IT, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., 
Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0306.
    Hand delivery: EPA Water Docket, EPA Docket Center, EPA West 
Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 
20460, Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0306. Deliveries to the docket are 
accepted only during their normal hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. For access to 
docket materials, call: 202/566-2426, to schedule an appointment.
    E- mail: ow-docket@epa.gov; Attention Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-
0306. To ensure that EPA can properly respond to comments,

[[Page 26722]]

commenters should cite the paragraph(s) or sections in the proposed 
permit to which each comment refers. Commenters should use a separate 
paragraph for each issue discussed, and must submit any references 
cited in their comments. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA 
recommends that you include your name and other contact information in 
the body of your comment. Electronic files should avoid any form of 
encryption and should be free of any defects or viruses.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Amson, Senior Marine 
Scientist, Marine Pollution Control Branch, Oceans and Coastal 
Protection Division (4504T), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone: 202/566-
1276.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On February 14, 2003, EPA issued a general 
permit to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for ocean disposal of 
man-made ice piers from its base at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. This 
ocean dumping permit had a term of seven years. It remains in effect 
under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 558(c), after its 
February 18, 2010 expiration because NSF applied for re-issuance prior 
to expiration. The purpose of today's proposed general permit is to re-
issue the 2003 permit for another seven-year period. The re-issued 
permit will allow the NSF to ocean dispose the ice pier currently in 
use at McMurdo Station, which is at the end of its service life.
    EPA proposes to re-issue the general permit under Sections 102(a) 
and 104(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act 
(MPRSA) to authorize the NSF to dispose of man-made ice piers in ocean 
waters from McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The NSF is the entity of the 
United States Government responsible for oversight of the United States 
Antarctic Program. The NSF currently operates three major bases in 
Antarctica: McMurdo Station on Ross Island, adjacent to McMurdo Sound; 
Palmer Station, near the western terminus of the Antarctic Peninsula; 
and Amundsen-Scott Station, at the geographic South Pole. McMurdo 
Station is the largest of the three bases, and serves as the primary 
logistics base for Antarctica. The great majority of personnel and 
supplies destined for the three stations are unloaded at, and pass 
through, McMurdo Station. To unload supplies, ships dock at an ice 
pier. Man-made ice piers have a normal life span of three to five 
years; the current ice pier, constructed in 1999, is over ten years 
old, and is effectively at the end of its service life.
    When an ice pier is at the end of its effective life, all 
transportable equipment, materials, and debris are removed; the pier is 
cast loose from its moorings at the base. It is then towed out to 
McMurdo Sound for disposal, where it disintegrates naturally. Re-
issuance of this general permit is necessary because the pier must be 
towed out to sea for disposal at the end of its effective life. This 
proposed general permit is intended to protect the marine environment 
by setting forth specific permit terms and conditions including 
operating conditions that occur over the life of the pier. It also 
describes required clean-up actions that the NSF must comply with 
before the disposal of any ice pier can take place.

A. Background on McMurdo Station Ice Pier

    For background information on the McMurdo Station ice pier, the 
reader is referred to the Federal Register notice of January 7, 2003 
(68 FR 775-780), which is hereby incorporated by reference into this 
notice. None of the stipulated facts of Section A (``Background on 
McMurdo Station Ice Pier'') of the January 7, 2003, notice have changed 
since its issuance on that date. The materials to be dumped (other than 
the ice in the pier itself, which melts naturally) include materials 
used in construction of the ice pier that cannot be removed prior to 
disposal. As explained in the January 7, 2003, notice, construction of 
an ice pier at McMurdo Station involves the following types and 
approximate quantities of materials that are normally used: (a) 6,300 m 
(21,000 ft) of one-inch steel cable; (b) 200 m (650 ft) of two-inch 
steel pipe; (c) three or four chemically-untreated wooden utility poles 
approximately one-foot in diameter, (d) several steel bollards; and (e) 
4,200 cubic meters (5,000 cubic yards) of gravel, 2 cm or smaller in 
size. When the pier has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer 
capable of being used during the next operating season, the wooden 
poles are cut off just above the surface of the ice, the steel bollards 
are blasted loose and removed, the gravel is scraped off and stored for 
use during the next operating season, all transportable equipment, 
materials, and debris are removed, and the pier is separated from its 
attachment at McMurdo Station at the end of the austral summer. It is 
then towed by a ship into McMurdo Sound past the northern end of the 
open channel in the ice, as close to the Ross Sea currents as possible. 
The pier is cast loose in a direction to allow it to flow with the Ross 
Sea currents, away from the open channel in the ice. The pier will then 
float amidst the ice pack, where it mixes with the annual Antarctic sea 
ice, and eventually disintegrates.

B. Statutory and Regulatory Background

1. Obligations Under United States Law

    Section 102(a) of the MPRSA, 33 U.S.C. 1412(a), requires that 
agencies or instrumentalities of the United States obtain a permit to 
transport any material from any location for the purpose of dumping 
into ocean waters. MPRSA Section 104(c), 33 U.S.C. 1414(c), and EPA 
regulations at 40 CFR 220.3(a) authorize the issuance of a general 
permit under the MPRSA for the dumping of materials which have a 
minimal adverse environmental impact, and are generally disposed of in 
small quantities. The proposed towing of ice piers by the NSF from 
McMurdo Station for disposal at sea constitutes transportation of 
material for the purpose of dumping in ocean waters; thus, it is 
subject to the requirements of the MPRSA. Ocean disposal of the 
materials incorporated into the ice pier will have a minimal adverse 
environmental impact, and represents comparatively small quantities of 
non-recoverable, non-ice matter.
    The NSF has completed a United States Antarctic Program (USAP) 
Environmental Impact Statement (June 1980), a USAP Final Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement (October 1991), and an Initial 
Environmental Evaluation (May 1992). More recently, the NSF has issued 
two Records of Environmental Review: Installation of Freeze Cells in 
Ice Piers (1998), and Use of Freeze Cells in Ice Piers to Repair Cracks 
(2000). All these documents address various aspects of the 
construction, operation, and disposal of ice piers at McMurdo Station 
in Antarctica, and are available for review at the Office of Polar 
Programs of the NSF, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. (For 
further information, contact Polly Penhale, at 703/292-7420). None of 
these documents identified any potential environmental impacts from the 
disposal of ice piers, other than the minor navigational hazard 
equivalent to that posed by an ice floe or a small iceberg. The Agency 
considered the analyses contained in the five documents in developing 
this proposed re-issuance of the general permit for the NSF.

[[Page 26723]]

2. Obligations Under International Law

    The Antarctic Science, Tourism, and Conservation Act of 1996 
amended the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978. This law is designed to 
implement the provisions of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to 
the Antarctic Treaty (``the Protocol''). The United States Senate 
ratified the Protocol on April 17, 1997, and it entered into force on 
January 18, 1998. The Protocol builds on the Antarctic Treaty to extend 
its effectiveness as a mechanism for ensuring protection of the 
Antarctic environment. It designates Antarctica as a natural reserve, 
devoted to peace and science, and sets forth basic principles as well 
as detailed mandatory rules that are applicable to human activities in 
Antarctica. It prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources 
on the continent, except for scientific research. It commits 
signatories (known as Parties) to the Protocol to complete 
environmental impact assessment procedures for proposed activities, 
both governmental and private. Among other things, it requires Parties 
to protect Antarctic flora and fauna, and it imposes strict limitations 
on disposal of wastes on the continent, as well as discharges of 
pollutants in Antarctic waters.
    Several sets of regulations exist that assist in the implementation 
of the Protocol. These include: (a) NSF regulations regarding 
environmental impact assessment of proposed Foundation actions in 
Antarctica (45 CFR Part 641), (b) NSF waste regulations for Antarctica 
(45 CFR Part 671), and (c) EPA regulations regarding environmental 
impact assessment of non-governmental activities in Antarctica (40 CFR 
Part 8).
    EPA's proposal to re-issue a general permit under the MPRSA does 
not conflict with obligations under the Protocol and any implementing 
legislation. EPA has coordinated with other responsible authorities, as 
appropriate, in EPA's consideration of the issuance of a general permit 
under the MPRSA.

C. Potential Effects of Ice Pier Disposal

    EPA's findings regarding (a) the fate of materials disposed in the 
ocean, (b) the potential effects of ice pier disposal on organisms in 
the polar marine environment, such as cetaceans (whales), pinnipeds 
(seals), avian species, and endangered or threatened species, and (c) 
environmental concerns associated with any operational discharges, 
leaks, or spills that may have contaminated the surface of the ice pier 
over the period of its existence are explained in Section C of the 
January 7, 2003, notice, and have not changed, with one exception. That 
exception is the updated spill prevention, control, and countermeasures 
(SPCC) plan, which is described below.
    EPA notes that the NSF has a SPCC plan for all the stations and 
bases under NSF jurisdiction in Antarctica. That plan, initially 
formulated in 1994, has been updated by NSF, and is titled: SPCC Plan 
for McMurdo Station, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica; the final document is 
dated January 7, 2010. The SPCC plan includes a section addressing fuel 
storage and transfer systems for the ice pier at McMurdo Station. EPA 
adopts the findings from the January 7, 2010, notice in its proposed 
permit today.

D. Discussion

    This new general permit that EPA proposes to re-issue to NSF and 
its agents for the ocean dumping of man-made ice piers from NSF's 
McMurdo Station, Antarctica, is subject to specific conditions. This 
proposed general permit applies only to the ocean dumping of man-made 
ice piers from the NSF base at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Agents of 
the NSF are included in the permit because transportation for the 
purpose of dumping an ice pier may be by vessels which are not under 
the direct ownership or operational control of the NSF. Section 104(a) 
of the MPRSA provides that permits shall be issued for a period not to 
exceed seven years (33 U.S.C. 1414(a)); thus, the term of this proposed 
permit is limited to seven years from the date of issuance.
    With the institution of new protective measures, such as longer 
length hoses for unloading petroleum products from the annual supply 
tanker, and new precautions taken in the handling and return to bases 
outside of Antarctica of used and contaminated chemicals, solvents, and 
hazardous materials, the chance of a spill or discharge of these 
materials is low. There is considerable vehicular traffic on the ice 
pier during the austral summer season, and the possibility of leaks or 
discharges from these vehicles cannot be totally avoided. However, the 
NSF has informed EPA that vehicles are parked on the pier for only 
brief periods of time, ranging from a few minutes to less than an hour, 
and that no vehicles are ever parked on the pier overnight. 
Additionally, such small discharges are typically contained within the 
temporary gravel cover, which is removed prior to ocean disposal.
    The proposed general permit establishes several specific conditions 
that shall be met during the life of, and prior to the dumping of, the 
ice pier. In addition, it requires the NSF to report by June 30 of 
every year to the Director of the Oceans and Coastal Protection 
Division, in EPA's Office of Water, on any spills, discharges, or 
clean-up procedures on the ice pier, and on any dumping of ice piers 
from McMurdo Station that are conducted under this general permit.
    This general permit requires that the NSF have an SPCC plan in 
place for the ice pier. This plan must address (specified in Item 1 in 
the permit):
    (a) The unloading of petroleum products from supply tankers to the 
storage tanks at McMurdo Station;
    (b) The unloading of drummed chemicals, petroleum products, and 
material from cargo freighters to supply depots at McMurdo Station; and
    (c) The loading of materials to freighters that are destined to be 
returned to bases outside of Antarctica.
    The proposed permit requires that the SPCC plan include methods to 
minimize the accidental release or discharge of any products to the ice 
pier. In addition, the proposed general permit requires that the 
following clean-up and reporting procedures must be followed by NSF in 
the event of a spill or discharge on the pier (specified in Item 2 in 
the permit):
    (a) All spills or discharges must be cleaned up within two hours of 
the spill or discharge, or as soon as possible thereafter;
    (b) If a spill or discharge occurs, clean-up procedures must be 
completed to a level below any visible evidence of the spill or 
discharge;
    (c) As part of normal permit monitoring requirements, an official 
record of the following information shall be kept by NSF (specified in 
Item 3 in the permit):
    (1) The date and time of all spills or discharges, the location of 
the spill or discharge, the approximate volume of the spill or 
discharge, the clean-up procedures employed, and the results of those 
procedures;
    (2) The number of wooden poles remaining in the pier at the time of 
release from McMurdo Station, and their approximate length;
    (3) The approximate length of the steel cables remaining in the 
pier at the time of its release;
    (4) Any other non-ice substances remaining on the pier at the time 
of its release; and
    (5) The date of detachment of the pier from McMurdo Station, and 
the geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the point of 
final release of

[[Page 26724]]

the pier in McMurdo Sound or the Antarctic Sea.
    (d) A copy of this record shall be submitted to the Director of the 
Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, in the Office of Water, at EPA 
Headquarters, by June 30 of every year as part of the annual reporting 
requirements.
    The conditions specified in the proposed permit are intended to 
protect the Antarctic environment against release of contaminants from 
the McMurdo Station ice pier following its ocean dumping and subsequent 
disintegration and melting.
    Furthermore, the NSF is directed, as a condition of this permit, to 
utilize a methodology to track any ice piers released from McMurdo 
Station for a period of one year from the date of release of the pier 
(specified in Item 5(c) of the permit). Such methodologies may include 
the use of satellite-tracked pingers placed on the ice pier, or any 
other methodology that will allow data to be collected on the course, 
speed, and location of the released ice pier. The results of these 
tracking efforts shall be included in the reports that NSF is required 
to submit to EPA. The period of one year was chosen by EPA for several 
reasons. First, batteries for pinger-tracking operations beyond a 
period of one year become considerably heavier and bulkier (and a 
greater source of pollution to the marine environment when the ice pier 
eventually disintegrates and melts); and second, one year's tracking 
measurements should provide substantial evidence about the geographic 
track of ice piers during the disintegration process. The NSF shall 
submit tracking reports to EPA for all releases of ice piers from 
McMurdo Station under this permit. If tracking results demonstrate that 
all ice piers released have generally followed the same geographic path 
and time of disintegration for the one year following release, EPA will 
consider whether further tracking efforts and reports shall be required 
from NSF in any future issuances of this permit.
    EPA received the tracking records from NSF of the last release of 
an ice pier from McMurdo Station. The pier was released on February 14, 
1999, and travelled in a generally northern direction into the Southern 
Ocean; it was tracked until the pinger signal was lost on December 7, 
1999. However, the ice pier only showed movement from the time of its 
release until May 1, 1999; from that time until December 7th, there was 
no further travel of the pier, and it is assumed it was frozen into the 
Antarctic ice pack. The following table provides information on the 
path of the ice pier from February 14 to May 1, 1999:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Date                       Latitude              Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
February 14, 1999            77.75[deg] S.                166.37[deg] E.
February 28, 1999            76.92[deg] S.                162.90[deg] E.
March 15, 1999               75.43[deg] S.                167.35[deg] E.
March 30, 1999               73.48[deg] S.                170.91[deg] E.
April 10, 1999               70.77[deg] S.                169.46[deg] E.
April 20, 1999               70.53[deg] S.                168.06[deg] E.
May 1, 1999                  70.38[deg] S.                167.22[deg] E.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Using a great circle distance calculator, it can be determined 
that, from the time of its release until the pier was frozen into the 
ice pack, the ice pier travelled a total distance of 526 statute miles, 
or 457 nautical miles.
    Considering that any contaminants remaining on the surface of the 
pier are expected to be extremely small, and that the area over which 
the disintegration and melting of the piers is immense (and probably 
incalculable), the potential for damage to the environment from the 
ocean dumping of ice piers from McMurdo Station, in Antarctica, is 
minimal. In addition, the possibility of entanglement of any large 
organisms in suspended loops of cable from the melting piers has been 
determined by EPA to be very minimal; further discussion of this issue 
can be found in ``C. Potential Effects of Ice Pier Disposal'', in the 
January 7, 2003 notice.

Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

A. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., is intended to 
minimize the reporting and record-keeping burden on the regulated 
community, as well as to minimize the cost of Federal information 
collection and dissemination. In general, the Act requires that 
information requests and record-keeping requirements affecting ten or 
more non-Federal respondents be approved by the Office of Management 
and Budget. Since this proposed general permit affects only a single 
Federal agency's record-keeping and reporting requirements, it is not 
subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

B. Endangered Species Act

    The Endangered Species Act (ESA) imposes duties on Federal agencies 
regarding endangered species of fish, wildlife, or plants and habitat 
of such species that have been designated as critical. Section 7(a)(2) 
of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR Part 402) require 
EPA to ensure, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior or 
Commerce, that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by EPA in 
the United States or upon the high seas, is not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species, or 
adversely affect their critical habitat.
    In compliance with Section 7 of the ESA, an endangered species list 
for the affected area of ocean dumping of ice piers from the NSF 
facility at McMurdo Station in Antarctica was requested by EPA and 
received from both the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) of the 
Department of the Interior, and the National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. No endangered, threatened, 
or candidate species are reported to potentially occur in the affected 
area.
    EPA has discussed this matter with both the USF&WS and the NMFS 
pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA, and both agencies have agreed that 
the ocean dumping of ice piers by the NSF or its agents from McMurdo 
Station in Antarctica will have no effect on endangered or threatened 
species. EPA will consider any comments offered by either the USF&WS or 
the NMFS on this issue before promulgating a final general permit on 
the ocean dumping of ice piers.

    Dated: May 3, 2011.
Paul Cough,
Director, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division.

Paul Cough,
Director, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division.
    EPA proposes to re-issue a general permit for the NSF as follows:

Disposal of Ice Piers From McMurdo Station, Antarctica

    The U.S. National Science Foundation and its agents are hereby 
granted a general permit under Sections 102(a) and 104(c) of the Marine 
Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, 33 U.S.C. 1412(a) and 
1414(c), to transport ice piers from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, for 
the purpose of ocean dumping, subject to the following conditions:
    (1) The NSF shall have a spill prevention, control, and 
countermeasures (SPCC) plan in place, for the McMurdo Station ice pier. 
The SPCC plan shall address procedures for loading and unloading the 
following materials, and shall include methods to minimize the 
accidental release or

[[Page 26725]]

discharge of any of these materials to the ice pier:
    (a) Petroleum products unloaded from supply tankers to storage 
tanks at McMurdo Station;
    (b) Drummed chemicals, petroleum products, and all materials 
unloaded from cargo freighters to supply depots at McMurdo Station; and
    (c) All materials loaded to freighters destined to be returned to 
bases outside Antarctica.
    (2) If a spill or discharge occurs on an ice pier, clean-up 
procedures must be completed by NSF or its contractors to a level below 
any visible evidence of the spill or discharge. All spills or 
discharges on an ice pier must be cleaned up within two hours of the 
spill or discharge, unless circumstances prevent cleanup within that 
time frame. In that event, the spill or discharge shall be cleaned up 
as soon as possible thereafter.
    (3) As part of normal monitoring requirements, a record of the 
following information shall be kept by NSF:
    (a) The date and time of all spills or discharges, the location of 
the spill or discharge, a description of the material that was spilled 
or discharged, the approximate volume of the spill or discharge, clean-
up procedures employed, and the results of those procedures;
    (b) The number of wooden poles remaining in the pier at the time of 
its release from McMurdo Station, and their approximate length;
    (c) The approximate length of the steel cables remaining in the 
pier at the time of its release from McMurdo Station;
    (d) Any other non-ice materials remaining on the pier at the time 
of its release from McMurdo Station; and
    (e) The date of detachment of the pier from McMurdo Station, and 
the geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the point of 
final release of the pier in McMurdo Sound or the Antarctic Sea.
    (4) The non-embedded ends of all wooden utility poles or bollards 
shall be cut off from the ice pier prior to disposal, and shall not be 
disposed of in the ocean.
    (5) Prior to the ocean dumping of any ice piers, the NSF shall take 
the following actions:
    (a) Other than the matter physically embedded in the ice pier (such 
as the ends of wooden light poles frozen in the pier, and the 
strengthening steel cables), all other objects (including the non-
embedded portions of the wooden poles used for lighting, power, or 
telephone connections, and any removable cables, equipment debris, or 
objects of anthropogenic origin), shall be removed from the ice pier 
prior to dumping;
    (b) The gravel non-slip surface of the ice pier shall be removed to 
the maximum extent possible, and shall be stored on the mainland for 
subsequent use during the next operating season; and
    (c) A methodology to track any ice piers released from McMurdo 
Station shall be established and utilized for a period of one year from 
the date of release of the ice pier. The results of these tracking 
efforts shall be included in the annual reports that the NSF is 
required to submit to the Agency.
    (6) The NSF shall submit a report by June 30 of every year to the 
Director, Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, Office of Water, 1200 
Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20460, on:
    (a) Any spills, discharges, or clean-up procedures on the ice pier 
at McMurdo Station;
    (b) Any ocean dumping of ice piers from McMurdo Station; and
    (c) Any tracking efforts of ice piers released from McMurdo Station 
under this general permit, for the year preceding the date of the 
annual report.
    (7) For the purpose of this permit, the term ``ice pier(s)'' means 
those man-made ice structures containing embedded steel cable, wooden 
pole ends, and any remaining gravel frozen into the surface of the 
pier, that are constructed at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, for the 
purpose of off-loading the annual provisions of fuel, supplies, and 
materiel for use by NSF activities in Antarctica, as well as for the 
purpose of loading the previous year's accumulation of wastes, which 
can be returned to the United States for recycling and disposal.
    (8) This permit shall be valid until (month)(day), 2018.

[FR Doc. 2011-11211 Filed 5-6-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P