Ocean Dumping; Atchafalaya-West Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site Designation, 29687-29696 [2013-12089]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.); • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4); • Does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999); • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997); • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001); • Is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). In addition, this rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the Commonwealth, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. [FR Doc. 2013–12088 Filed 5–20–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 40 CFR Part 228 [EPA–R06–OW–2013–0221; FRL–9814–7] Ocean Dumping; Atchafalaya-West Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site Designation Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The EPA is proposing to redesignate the existing Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) Section 103(b) Atchafalaya-West Ocean Disposal Site (ODMDS-West) as a permanent MPRSA Section 102(c) ocean dredged material disposal site (ODMDS) located adjacent to and west of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel (ARBC) of Louisiana. The approval for the ODMDS-West use expired in August 2012; therefore, the site can no longer accept shoal material dredged from the ARBC unless it is redesignated as a MPRSA Section 102(c) site by EPA. Studies have shown that use of the ODMDS-West reduces the amount and rate of shoal material runback into the ARBC, and thus, decreases the overall annual maintenance dredging effort needed for the ARBC while providing vessels with a longer period of safe navigation access prior to a maintenance dredging event. Therefore, there is a need to designate a permanent ODMDS on the west side of the ARBC. Approximately 10.8 million cubic yards will be placed every 7 months and must be conducted in accordance with the Site Management and Monitoring Plan. The proposed ODMDS will be monitored periodically to ensure that the site operates as expected. Comments. Comments on this proposed rule and draft Environmental Impact Statement must be received on or before July 5, 2013. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket No. EPA–R06– OW–2013–0221, by one of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov; follow the online instruction for submitting comments. • Email: Dr. Jessica Franks at franks.jessica@epa.gov. • Fax: Dr. Jessica Franks, Marine and Coastal Section (6WQ–EC) at fax number 214–665–6689. • Mail: Dr. Jessica Franks, Marine and Coastal Section (6WQ–EC), Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: (6WQ–EC), 1445 Ross DATES: Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides. Dated: May 9, 2013. A. Stanley Meiburg, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 4. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 29687 Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202–2733. Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket No.EPA–R06–OW–2013–0221. EPA’s policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or email. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an ‘‘anonymous access’’ system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD–ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Marine and Coastal Section (6WQ– EC), Environmental Protection Agency, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202–2733. The file will be made available by appointment for public inspection in the Region 6 FOIA Review Room between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays except for legal holidays. Contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT paragraph below. If possible, please make the appointment at least two working days in advance of your visit. There will be a 15 cent per page fee for making photocopies of E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 29688 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules documents. On the day of the visit, please check in at the EPA Region 6 reception area at 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 700, Dallas, Texas. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica Franks, Ph.D., Marine and Coastal Section (6WQ–EC), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 700, Dallas, Texas 75202–2733, telephone (214) 665–8335, fax number (214) 665– 6689; email address franks.jessica@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents A. Potentially Affected Entities B. Background C. Disposal Volume Limit D. Site Management and Monitoring Plan E. Ocean Dumping Site Designation Criteria —General Selection Criteria —Specific Selection Criteria F. Regulatory Requirements 1. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 2. Endangered Species Act Consultation 3. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996 4. Coastal Zone Management Act 5. Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990 G. Administrative Review 1. Executive Order 12886 2. Paperwork Reduction Act 3. Regulatory Flexibility Act, as Amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 4. Unfunded Mandates 5. Executive Order 13132: Federalism 6. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments 7. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental Health and Safety Risks 8. Executive Order 13211: Actions That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use Compliance With Administrative Procedure Act 9. National Technology Transfer Advancement Act 10. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations The supporting document for this site designation is the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Designation of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site Pursuant to Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries, Act of 1972; St. Mary Parish, Louisiana dated March 2013 prepared by the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This document is available for public inspection at the following locations: 1. Environmental Protection Agency, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202–2733. 2. EPA Web site: https://www.epa.gov/ region6/water/ecopro/current_action. html. 3. Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov; follow the online instruction for submitting comments. A. Potentially Affected Entities Entities potentially affected by this action are persons, organizations, or government bodies seeking to dispose of dredged material in ocean waters at the ODMDS-West, under the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act, 33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq. This Rule would be primarily of relevance to parties seeking permits from the USACE to transport dredged material for the purpose of disposal into ocean waters at the ODMDS-West, as well as the USACE itself (when proposing to dispose of dredged material at the ODMDS-West). Potentially affected categories and entities seeking to use the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West and thus subject to this Rule include: Category Examples of potentially regulated persons Federal government ................................................................................. USACE Civil Works and O & M projects; other Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense. Port authorities, marinas and harbors, shipyards and marine repair facilities, berth owners. Governments owning and/or responsible for ports, harbors, and/or berths, Government agencies requiring disposal of dredged material associated with public works projects. Industry and general public ...................................................................... erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 State, local and tribal governments .......................................................... This table is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be affected by this action. EPA notes, however, that nothing in this Rule alters in any way, the jurisdiction of EPA, or the types of entities regulated under the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act. To determine if you or your organization may be potentially affected by this action, you should carefully consider whether you expect to propose ocean disposal of dredged material, in accordance with the Purpose and Scope provisions of 40 CFR 220.1, and if you wish to use the ODMDS-West. For any questions regarding the applicability of this action to a particular entity, please refer to the contact person listed in the preceding FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 B. Background Ocean disposal of dredged materials is regulated under Title I of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA; 33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.). The EPA and the USACE share responsibility for the management of ocean disposal of dredged material. Under Section 102 of MPRSA; EPA is responsible for designating an acceptable location for the ODMDS. With concurrence from EPA, the USACE issues permits under MPRSA Section 103 for ocean disposal of dredged material deemed suitable according to EPA criteria in MPRSA Section 102 and EPA regulations in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 227 (40 CFR part 227). In lieu of the permit procedure for a federal project involving dredged material, the USACE may issue and abide by regulations using the same criteria, other factors to be evaluated, PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 same procedures and same requirements that apply to the issuance of permits. Pursuant to its voluntary NEPA policy, published at 63 FR 58045 (October 29, 1998), EPA typically relies on the EIS process to enhance public participation on the proposed designation of an ODMDS. A site designation EIS evaluates alternative sites and examines the potential environmental impacts associated with disposal of dredged material at various locations. Such an EIS first demonstrates the need for the ODMDS designation action (40 CFR 6.203(a) and 40 CFR 1502.13) by describing available or potential aquatic and non-aquatic (i.e., land-based) alternatives and the consequences of not designating a site— the No Action Alternative. Once the need for an ocean disposal site is established, potential sites are screened for feasibility through a ‘‘Zone of Siting Feasibility’’ (ZSF) process. Potential alternative sites are then evaluated E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules using EPA’s ocean disposal criteria at 40 CFR Part 228 and compared in the EIS. Of the sites that satisfy these criteria, the site that best complies is selected as the preferred alternative for designation through a rulemaking proposal published in the Federal Register (FR), as here. Formal designation of an ODMDS in the Federal Register and codification in the Code of Federal Regulations does not constitute approval of dredged material for ocean disposal. Site designation merely identifies a suitable ocean location in the event that dredged material is later approved for ocean disposal. Designation of an ODMDS provides an ocean disposal alternative for consideration in the review of each proposed dredging project. Before any ocean disposal may take place, the dredging project proponent must demonstrate a need for ocean disposal, including consideration of alternatives. Alternatives to ocean disposal, including the option for beneficial reuse of dredged material, are evaluated for each dredging project that may result in the ocean disposal of dredged materials from such project. Ocean disposal of dredged material is only allowed after both EPA and USACE determine that the proposed activity is environmentally acceptable under criteria codified at 40 CFR Part 227 and 33 CFR Part 336, respectively. In addition, ongoing management of these ODMDSs would be subject to Site Management and Monitoring Plans (SMMPs) required by MPRSA section 102(c)(3)(F) and (c)(4), which are discussed more fully below. Decisions to allow ocean disposal are made on a case-by-case basis through the MPRSA Section 103 permitting process, resulting in a USACE permit or its equivalent process for USACE’s Civil Works projects. Material proposed for disposal at a designated ODMDS must conform to EPA’s permitting criteria for acceptable quality (40 CFR Parts 225 and 227), as determined from physical, chemical, and bioassay/ bioaccumulation tests prescribed by national sediment testing protocols (EPA and USACE 1991). Only clean non-toxic dredged material is acceptable for ocean disposal. The proposed ODMDS will be subject to ongoing monitoring and management to ensure continued protection of the marine environment. This ocean disposal site designation is based on EPA’s general and specific criteria as evaluated in the March 2013 ‘‘Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Designation of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site Pursuant VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 to Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana’’ (Draft EIS). The Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf, and Black, Louisiana (Figure 1–1), project was authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1968 (Pub. L. 90–483). Historically, the Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf, and Black, Louisiana, navigation channel has been dredged to 24 feet Mean Low Gulf (MLG) which includes 20 feet for the authorized channel dimension plus 2 feet advanced maintenance and 2 feet of allowable overdepth. Material removed from the ARBC suitable for beneficial use (i.e., between ARBC Stations 475+00 and 650+00) has been placed in one of two adjacent Bird Island disposal sites, pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1977. Material that could not be used beneficially (i.e., between ARBC Stations 650+00 and 1340+00) has been placed (prior to 2002) at the existing Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) Section 102(c) Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site (ODMDS) on the east side of the channel. This ODMDS is referred to as ODMDS-East. Since 2002, however, material not suitable for beneficial use has been placed at a temporary (i.e., 5-year) ODMDS on the west side of the channel under the authority of MPRSA Section 103(b) (the ODMDS-West). In 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District (MVN) requested, and received, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6 (EPA), a 5-year extension for the continued use of the MPRSA Section 103(b) ODMDS-West. The approval for the ODMDS-West use expired in August 2012; therefore, the site can no longer accommodate shoal material dredged from the ARBC unless it is re-designated as a MPRSA Section 102(c) site by EPA. EPA has determined that the ODMDSWest alternative identified in the draft EIS is the environmentally preferred site, and this action proposes to designate the ODMDS-West as an ocean dredged material disposal site, located in Atchafalaya Bay, approximately 19 miles from the mainland coast and the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. The proposed ODMDS-West is rectangular, approximately 3 miles wide by 16 miles long, located west of and parallel to the ARBC. The depth of the site ranges from 4 to 23 feet MLG, and the total area is approximately 48 square miles. The action provides for adequate, environmentally-acceptable ocean disposal site capacity for suitable dredged material generated from PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 29689 dredging projects in and along the ARBC by formally designating the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West. C. Disposal Volume Limit The proposed action would formally designate the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West for placement of approximately 10.8 cubic yards (cy) of maintenance material from the ARBC on an annual basis. The need for ongoing ocean disposal capacity is based on average historical dredging volumes from the ARBC navigational channel since 2002. D. Site Management and Monitoring Plan Continuing use of the site requires verification that significant impacts do not occur outside of the disposal site boundaries through implementation of the Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP) developed as part of the proposed action and included as Appendix A to the draft EIS developed for the proposed designation of the ODMDS-West. The main purpose of the SMMP is to provide a structured framework to ensure that dredged material disposal activities will not unreasonably degrade or endanger human health, welfare, the marine environment, or economic potentialities (MPRSA Section 103(a)). Two main objectives for management of the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West are: (1) to ensure that only dredged material that satisfies the criteria set forth in 40 CFR part 227 Subparts B, C, D, E, and G and Part 228.4(e) and is suitable for unrestricted placement at the ODMDS and; (2) avoidance of excessive mounding, either within the site boundaries or in areas adjacent to the site, as a direct result of placement operations. The EPA and USACE New Orleans District personnel would achieve these SMMP objectives by jointly administering the following activities: (1) Regulation and administration of ocean dumping permits; (2) development and maintenance of a site monitoring program; (3) evaluation of permit compliance and monitoring results. The SMMP includes periodic physical monitoring to confirm that disposal material is deposited within the seafloor disposal boundary, as well as bathymetric surveys to confirm that there is no excessive mounding or shortterm transport of material beyond the limits of the ODMDS-West. Physical and chemical sediment and biological monitoring requirements are described in the SMMP and are required to be conducted based on the Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 29690 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules Disposal Testing Manual, EPA 503/8-91/ 001 and the Joint EPA–USACE Regional Implementation Agreement (RIA) procedures. Results will be used to confirm that dredged material actually disposed at the site satisfies the criteria set forth in 40 CFR part 227 Subparts B, C, D, E, and G and Part 228.4(e) and is suitable for unrestricted ocean disposal. Other activities implemented through the SMMP to achieve these objectives include: (1) Regulating quantities and types of material to be disposed, including the time, rates, and methods of disposal; and (2) recommending changes to site use requirements, including disposal amounts or timing, based on periodic evaluation of site monitoring results. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 E. Ocean Dumping Site Designation Criteria Five general criteria and 11 specific site selection criteria are used in the selection and approval of ocean disposal sites for continued use (40 CFR 228.5 and 40 CFR 228.6(a)). General Selection Criteria 1. The dumping of materials into the ocean will be permitted only at sites or in areas selected to minimize the interference of disposal activities with other activities in the marine environment, particularly avoiding areas of existing fisheries or shellfisheries, and regions of heavy commercial or recreational navigation. The Atchafalaya ODMDS-West is located adjacent to and parallel to the ARBC. This location reduces the distance that the maintenance-dredged material must be transported, minimizing interference with other activities in the marine environment. There may be some short-term interference with fishing activities during placement operations. No interference with these or other marine activities is expected outside the brief periods of placement operations. There have been no impacts to existing oyster leases located northeast of the ODMDS area near Point au Fer from the use of the existing ODMDS-East, or ODMDSWest (which has been used since 2002), and no impact is expected to occur in the future as a result of using the proposed ODMDS-West. 2. Locations and boundaries of disposal sites will be so chosen that temporary perturbations in water quality or other environmental conditions during initial mixing caused by disposal operations anywhere within the site can be expected to be reduced to normal ambient seawater levels or to undetectable contaminant concentrations or effects before reaching VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 any beach, shoreline, marine sanctuary, or known geographically limited fishery or shellfishery. Placement of maintenance-dredged material will produce a turbidity plume. This plume will disperse to the point where it would be indistinguishable from the turbidity naturally occurring in the area. Turbidity resulting from maintenance-dredged material placement is not expected to be distinguishable from the natural turbidity occurring in the vicinity of North Point and in Atchafalaya Bay, except temporarily. There are no marine sanctuaries in the immediate vicinity of the ODMDS (USFWS 1981). Fishnet Bank, the nearest protected Area of Biological Significance, is approximately 104 miles south of the ODMDS. Any impacts from placement of dredged material are expected to be minor. Based on the current regime noted in Section 3.1.3.2, the transport of suspended materials from the ODMDS would mainly be parallel to the coastline, and concentrations of suspended materials produced during dredging operations are expected to be within background levels within a few miles or so of the ODMDS (May 1973). There are no Public Oyster Areas within the ODMDS-East or ODMDS-West, and the nearest oyster leases are approximately 4 miles east of the ARBC and ODMDSs, near Point au Fer (LDNR 2012). The potential impact on oyster beds in nearby Atchafalaya Bay is expected to be minimal. These organisms, as well as others in the region, are naturally subjected to periodic episodes of high, suspendedsolids concentrations from waveinduced resuspension of nearshore sediments and from the waters of the Atchafalaya River. 3. If at any time during or after disposal site evaluation studies, it is determined that existing disposal sites presently approved on an interim basis for ocean dumping do not meet the criteria for site selection set forth in Sections 228.5 through 228.6, the use of such sites will be terminated as soon as suitable alternate disposal sites can be designated. This criterion does not apply to the proposed ODMDS-West since it is not an existing site approved on an interim basis. However, studies to date indicate that the proposed ODMDS-West meets the requirements of the MPRSA. Surveys of the site and vicinity indicated that water quality, sediments, and biological life were generally similar to surrounding areas. An existing designated ODMDS (the ODMDS-East) is located immediately across the navigation channel from the PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 proposed site. No adverse environmental effects were detected outside the site boundaries during site investigation surveys (IEC 1983; Dettmann and Tracey 1990; Flemer et al. 1994; Trulli 1996) of ODMDS-West. 4. The sizes of the ocean disposal sites will be limited in order to localize for identification and control any immediate adverse impacts and permit the implementation of effective monitoring and surveillance programs to prevent adverse long-range impacts. The size, configuration, and location of any disposal site will be determined as a part of the disposal site evaluation or designation study. The size of the ODMDS-West has been identified to cover an area as small as possible to reasonably meet the criteria stated at 40 CFR 228.6(a) for the ARBC project and for efficient placement of material dredged from the ARBC. The size and location of the proposed ODMDS-West also minimizes the return of dredged material from the ODMDS to the channel. This consideration led to the establishment of a long site parallel to the channel with an area of 54 square miles. The site lends itself to surveillance of individual dredged material placement operations and longterm monitoring. The configuration of the ODMDS-West limits its overall area to a dimension of 18.0 miles long by 3.0 miles wide. The width of 3.0 miles is typically the pumping distance at which a hydraulic pipeline cutterhead suction dredge may no longer be cost effective without a booster pump, depending on the size of the dredge. Teeter (2003) recommended westward disposal at the greatest practicable distance from the channel to minimize runback into the channel. The orientation of the ODMDSWest broadside to the prevailing currents in the area increases the chance that material placed in the ODMDSWest will be moved from the site before undesirable mounding can occur. 5. The EPA will, wherever feasible, designate ocean dumping sites beyond the edge of the continental shelf and other such sites that have been historically used. In this area of the Gulf of Mexico, an ODMDS beyond the continental shelf would be at least 84 miles from the area to be dredged. A dredged material placement site beyond the continental shelf would not be feasible due to, among other things, increased safety risks, increased cost of dredged material transportation, and increased costs for site characterization, monitoring, and surveillance studies. E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Specific Selection Criteria 1. Geographical position, depth of water, bottom topography, and distance from the coast. The proposed ODMDS-West is a 16.0mile long by 3.0 mile-wide rectangular area located west of and parallel to the ARBC and bound by the following coordinates (NAD 83): 29°22′06″ N, 91°27′38″ W; 29°20′ 30″ N, 91°25′13″ W; 29°09′16″ N, 91° 35′12″ W; and 29°10′52″ N, 91°37′33″ W. The depth of the site ranges from 4 to 23 feet MLG, and the total area is approximately 48 square miles. The center of the ODMDSWest is approximately 19 miles from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. The ODMDS-West is located in the nearshore area of the plain. Except for being located adjacent to the dredged channel, the area occupied by the ODMDS is typical in depth and bottom topography to the continental shelf in the vicinity of the Atchafalaya River Delta. 2. Location in relation to breeding, spawning, nursery, feeding, or passage areas of living resources in adult or juvenile phases. The northwestern Gulf of Mexico is a breeding, spawning, nursery, and feeding area for shrimp, menhaden, and bottom fish. Many of the species migrate seasonally between estuaries and the Gulf. Because the timing of species movements vary, some migration can occur at almost any time of the year (Day et al., 1989). The proposed ODMDS-West is located in a region dominated by species that are estuarine-dependent (Darnell et al., 1983; Phillips and James, 1988; Day et al., 1989). Commercially important species likely found in the area include white shrimp, brown shrimp, Gulf menhaden, and sand sea trout. Commercially important shellfish and fish that inhabit the nearby bay environment include oyster, blue crab, black drum, white shrimp, and brown shrimp. Limited interferences with nearshore fisheries may occur during placement of maintenance-dredged material. The Atchafalaya estuary has a broader expanse of direct connection with the open Gulf of Mexico than any other estuary along the Louisiana coast. A small portion of this passage route may impede movement/migration of some marine organisms (e.g., shrimp) during periods of active dredging and placement. The settling of dredged material and the sediment plume in and near the ODMDS might also impede localized movement/migration of marine organisms on the continental shelf. However, the effect of these VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 impediments on the movement/ migration of marine organism populations affected would be very small and probably undetectable. The stress and possible mortality of individual organisms encountering adverse conditions during dredging and placement operations in the ODMDS would be negligible compared to the passage of the far greater majority of individuals crossing into or out of the estuary and at other locations. Additionally, any impact would also occur at any other ODMDS location near the ARBC. Placement of material at the proposed ODMDS-West would have negligible effects on endangered and threatened species. Occurrences of whales off Louisiana are considered rare and because the animals generally inhabit waters far deeper than those in the proposed ODMDS, it is unlikely that maintenance-dredged material placement operations would impact whales. Sea turtles could potentially be found in the proposed ODMDS-West, although the persistent high turbidity makes the area unsuitable for regular use of this area by sea turtles, which generally depend on their sight to feed. Dredging operations might affect sea turtles through incidental take. Hopper dredging has been identified as a source of mortality to sea turtles in inshore waters (Dickerson and Nelson 1990; Magnuson et al. 1990; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] and NMFS 1991, 1992), not placement operations. Designation of the ODMDS-West has been requested for the placement of future maintenance material dredged from the ARBC by hydraulic cutterhead pipeline dredging and hopper dredging. If hopper dredges are used, there is a possibility of impact to sea turtles, as there would be no matter where the ODMDS is located. Hydraulic cutterhead pipeline dredging operations have not been identified as a source of sea turtle mortality. Hopper dredging will be conducted in accordance with all reasonable and prudent measures and implementing terms and conditions provided to MVN by NMFS in its 2007 Biological Opinion (NMFS 2007) and any subsequent Biological Opinion, to avoid sea turtle mortality. 3. Location in relation to beaches and other amenity areas. The nearest point of land is North Point of Point au Fer Island that is approximately 2.5 miles from the northeast end of the proposed ODMDSWest. There are no recreational parks or beaches near the proposed ODMDSWest. It may be possible to observe the placement plume from boats in the PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 29691 vicinity during the active period of maintenance-dredged material placement within the site. The plume resulting from the placement of dredged material is not expected to be visible from land because of the distance from land and the existing turbid nature of the water in the area. The plume is expected to dissipate quickly after completion of the placement operations. Except for the minor effects of these limited observations, there should be no effects to the aesthetics of the area. 4. Types and quantities of wastes proposed to be disposed of, and proposed methods of release, including methods of packaging the waste, if any. Material dredged from the ARBC is mainly comprised of silt, with lesser amounts of sand and clay (Dettmann and Tracey 1990; PBS&J 2002; PBS&J 2002). Sediment sampling as part of the contaminant assessments conducted by PBS&J (2008) found dredged material from the ARBC consisting of approximately 7–12 percent sand, 81–88 percent silt, and 6–7 percent clay. Based on dredging records since 2002, the volume of maintenance-dredged material to be removed from the ARBC for disposal to the ODMDS-West is approximately 10.8 mcy per fiscal year. Material is removed from the ARBC using a hydraulic cutterhead pipeline dredge and released within the ODMDS as uncohesive slurry. The ARBC is dredged annually and the average length of the dredging contract is 60 to 90 days. It is expected that future disposal operations will follow the past disposal pattern with respect to types, quantities, and methods of release. Any material disposed of at the site would be required to comply with the criteria of the Ocean Dumping Regulations (40 CFR Pans 220 to 229). None of the material will be packaged in any way. 5. Feasibility of surveillance and monitoring. The proposed ODMDS-West is in relatively shallow water and is close to shore, which facilitates surveillance and monitoring of the site. Operational observations can be made using shorebased radar, aircraft, and day-use boats. A draft Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP) incorporating monitoring requirements has been developed jointly by EPA and MVN for the proposed ODMDS-West and existing ODMDS-East. The primary purpose of the Site Monitoring Program is to evaluate the impact of dredged material on the marine environment. The SMMP is included in Appendix A of this draft EIS. 6. Dispersal, horizontal transport, and vertical mixing characteristics of the E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 29692 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules area, including prevailing current direction and velocity, if any. Current patterns in the vicinity of the proposed ODMDS are highly complex. Although tides, Loop current intrusions, and river flow may affect the local currents, these currents are influenced predominately by winds (Phillips and James, 1988). Thus, the direction and velocity of the currents vary throughout the year. Winds are a particularly strong driving force in late autumn, winter, and early spring. Net water flow in the winter is to the northwest; however, rapid flow reversals to the southeast occur periodically in concert with wind direction (Crout and Hamiter 1981; Phillips and James 1988; Walker and Hammack 2000). The near shore current patterns are somewhat more complex in summer. In the absence of strong winds and the presence of a stratified water column, current patterns become considerably less distinct. Net flow in summer can be either to the east or west (Crout and Hamiter 1981; Phillips and James 1988; Walker and Hammack 2000). Spinoff eddies from the Loop current occasionally enter the region, producing flows to the southeast near the ARBC (Weissberg et al. 1980a, 1980b). Current speeds generally range from 10 to 30 centimeters per second (cm/s) in the vicinity of the proposed ODMDS. Minimum speeds of 5 to 30 cm/s occur in June, July, and August; whereas the highest recorded current speeds in the vicinity range from 70 to 140 cm/s and occur during strong winter storms (Weissberg et al. 1980a, 1980b). Stagnant periods with little or no current motion, lasting as long as 6 days, have been recorded in April, May, and July (Weissberg et al. 1980a, 1980b). Current speeds may reach 200 cm/s during hurricanes, which occur, on average, approximately once every four years (Weissberg et al. 1980a, 1980b; Phillips and James 1988; NOAA 2013a). In the absence of strong currents, the bulk of the maintenance-dredged material settles on the bottom of the particular area of a site being used at that time. A portion of the plume (fines) will be transported in the direction of the current over a wider area of the disposal site and, to some extent, outside the disposal site. This material will eventually settle over a wide area. Plume measurements were taken by Schubel et al. (1978) during dredged material disposal operations at the ODMDS-East. Background suspended solids concentrations were approximately 100 mg/L and currents were to the southwest at 9 to 19 cm/s. During placement operations, suspended solids concentrations as high VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 as 300 mg/L were found a quarter of a mile downcurrent from the end of the discharge pipe. During another set of observations made when current directions were to the west and to the northeast, suspended solids concentrations of 300 mg/L were measured at 0.6 to 1.0 mile downcurrent from the end of the discharge pipe. For comparison purposes, total suspended solids (TSS) concentrations in this area of the continental shelf normally range between 250 to 400 mg/L. The maintenance-dredged material is proportionally very small compared to the sediment load delivered by the discharge of the Atchafalaya River to the area. During disposal operations, a temporary mound of maintenancedredged material may be initially formed within the ODMDS. However, flow of the noncohesive slurry and resuspension of the maintenancedredged material results in the disappearance of the mound through dispersal and horizontal transport. The net result would be the remixing of maintenance-dredged material with other materials from the original source. The natural sediment load of the Atchafalaya is estimated to be approximately 40 to 50 percent of the combined discharge from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers, which is 210 million tons/year (Walker and Hammack 2000). According to a sediment budget modeled by Teeter et al. (2003) for a hypothetical 10-mcy shoal in the ARBC, placement of material in the ODMDSWest would reduce runback to the channel by 5 mcy but increase lateral inflow by the same amount, when compared to placement in ODMDS-East. Although placement in ODMDS-West reduced runback to the channel, within approximately 10 weeks, the difference was made up through lateral inflow. Based on this analysis, the annual potential lateral source is estimated at approximately 30 mcy, which is a reasonable rate, given the parameters identified during the study (Teeter et al. 2003). Thus, while placing material on the west side of the ARBC did not eliminate shoaling, it did reduce runback of material into the channel, when compared to placing material on the east side of the channel. The 10week decrease in the amount of time it takes material to reenter the ARBC, then, would decrease the overall annual maintenance dredging effort (i.e., dredging frequency) needed for the ARBC while providing vessels with a longer period of safe navigation access between maintenance dredging events. PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 7. Existence and effects of current and previous discharges and dumping in the area (including cumulative effects). The area proposed for selection has been used for the disposal of maintenance-dredged material since 2002. Bathymetric surveys taken prior to and after disposal operations indicate there is no persistent mounding and the maintenance-dredged material is relatively quickly dispersed. No measurable effects from previous disposals have been noticed. Studies conducted on the ODMDSEast in the early 1980s and 1990s did not identify effects from dredged material placement in the water column, sediments, or benthos of the site. These studies were conducted during placement activities, as well as 10 and 15 months following placement activities (USAC, 1996). Although these studies were conducted at the ODMDSEast, it is reasonable to expect that, because of the proximity of the proposed ODMDS-West, there would also be no effects from placement at ODMDS-West. 8. Interference with shipping, fishing, recreation, mineral extraction, desalination, fish and shellfish culture, areas of special scientific importance, and other legitimate uses of the ocean. The proposed ODMDS-West is outside the navigation channel and therefore does not interfere with shipping. The shallow nature of the continental shelf in the area requires ships to remain in the navigation channels away from the ODMDS-West. Smaller recreational and commercial fishing vessels will pass over the ODMDS-West without interference from dredged material mounds that may temporarily form and that are expected to be relatively low and to disperse relatively quickly. Hydraulic cutterhead dredges and disposal pipelines may cause minor interference, but are not expected to interfere with shipping traffic. All dredging and placement operations are closely coordinated with the USCG with issuance of a Notice to Mariners to dredging operators and the shipping interests to avoid interference with traffic. Recreational fishing and boating takes place throughout the area of the ODMDS-West. Ship Shoal is located approximately 29 miles east of the ODMDS-West; Trinity and Tiger Shoals are about 28 miles west of the site. Smaller fishing shoals are within 2.9 miles of the ODMDS-West and Point au Fer Reef is located just north of the site. There may be some short-term interference with recreational activities at the ODMDS-West, particularly during disposal operations. The plumes of E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules maintenance-dredged material and activities associated with the dredging operations could have a minor impact on targeted fish stocks, which may tend to avoid the area of active placement, temporarily affecting recreational fishing in the area. This interference would be short-term and restricted to the relatively small area of the ODMDSWest being used for dredged material placement at any particular time. Trawling and crabbing in the channel and near the placement area may experience interference during dredging operations. There are numerous active oil and gas platforms located in the west and south end of the ODMDS-West and other platforms are located adjacent to the east, south, and west of the site. Additionally, several large natural gas pipelines cross the ODMDS-West. Because of the dispersive nature of the site, past experience with dredged material placement has not indicated interference with oil and gas exploration or production. No other types of mineral extraction are taking place either within the site or within the general vicinity of the site. It is not expected that use of the site for placement of maintenancedredged material would interfere with any other legitimate use of the ocean in this general area. No desalination or artificial finfish or shellfish culture facilities are located within the site. The nearest oyster leases are located approximately 4 miles east of the ODMDS-West, near Point au Fer (Ernie Dugas 1995, personal communication, Oyster Survey Section LDWF; USACE 1996; LDNR 2012). Fish and shellfish that naturally occur within the site may be affected by placement of dredge material at the site, particularly bottom-dwelling organisms that may be trapped and smothered. Material dispersed from the site is expected to settle in thin layers and be mixed with the naturally occurring sediments in the region. Thus, dispersion and transport of this material outside of the site should not adversely affect the fish and shellfish in the area. Additionally, because the transport of suspended material from the ODMDS-West would be primarily parallel to the coastline and in a generally westward direction for much of the year, effect of placement operations on oyster lease areas near Point au Fer would be minimal and consistent with natural conditions. There have been no impacts to oyster leases from the use of the interimdesignated ODMDS-West, thus no impact is expected from its continued use. Two areas designated as wildlife management areas or wildlife refuges VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 and that are used for recreational use are located in the project area. The 140,000acre Atchafalaya Delta WMA, managed by the LDWF, encompasses the developing delta in Atchafalaya Bay. The Atchafalaya Delta WMA is located immediately adjacent to the upper end of the existing Section 103(b) ODMDSWest. The Shell Keys National Wildlife Refuge and Russell Sage—Marsh Island State Wildlife Refuge is located approximately 29 miles west of the ODMDS-West. The transport of suspended materials from the ODMDSWest would mainly be parallel to the coastline, and concentrations of suspended materials produced during dredging operations are expected to be within background levels within a few miles or so of the ODMDS-West (May 1973). Suspended materials originating from the ODMDS-West may drift into adjacent portions of the Atchafalaya Delta WMA; however, the effects of these suspended materials would likely be indiscernible from ambient conditions in these areas. There have been no significant impacts to these areas from use of the interim-designated ODMDS-West, and no impacts are expected from its continued use. Various universities and state and Federal agencies have studied the biological, geomorphological, and hydrological development of the Atchafalaya Delta. This includes scientific studies that are periodically carried out in the offshore region and the bays of the area. As the Atchafalaya Delta progrades from the Atchafalaya Bay into the Gulf of Mexico, it is likely that scientific interest in the area will continue. Placement of dredged material into the ODMDS-West is not expected to interfere with any such studies. 9. Existing water quality and ecology of the site as determined by available data or by trend assessment or baseline surveys. The water quality and ecology of the proposed ODMDS-West generally reflect that of the nearshore region off the Louisiana coast affected by discharges from the Atchafalaya River. The variations in water quality depend on the amount and mixing of freshwater runoff that is highly variable (Phillips and James 1988). Data collected during the IEC (1983) surveys and the EPA– ERLN (Dettmann and Tracey 1990) survey are generally comparable to historic data for the area as summarized in Phillips and James (1988). Neither the IEC (1983) nor the EPA–ERLN (Dettmann and Tracey 1990) water column data were taken during maintenance-dredged material placement operations; therefore, these data reflect ambient conditions. PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 29693 Similarly, water quality and sediment contaminant data from the 2008, 2002 and 1996 contaminant assessments all indicated no water quality impacts related to the placement of dredged material. Additional detail regarding these data, as well as additional discussion of water quality can be found in sections 4.1.4 and 4.1.5. Macrofaunal assemblages near the ARBC ODMDSs have been examined during benthic investigations of several proposed salt dome brine diffuser sites (Parker et al., 1980; Weissberg et al., 1980a, 1980b). These studies characterized nearshore assemblages typical of estuarine areas, with communities dominated by polychaete worms, small molluscs, and macrocrustaceans. Most species displayed seasonal population fluctuations, with recruitment during winter and spring. Stations sampled by IEC (1983) in the vicinity of the ODMDS-East were further inshore and shallower than the proposed brine diffuser sites; however, the same general macrofaunal assemblage was found. During both surveys, polychaetes dominated the macrofauna. Central Louisiana Gulf coastal waters are inhabited by numerous species of finfish and shellfish that can be characterized as estuary-related or demersal shelf inhabitants. Nektonic species and fast swimmers that may occur within the area of the ODMDS are attracted to oil rigs, which provide reeflike environments in the Gulf. Most, but not all, of the larger predators occur seasonally on the northern Gulf shelf, appearing in spring and leaving in the fall (Darnell et al. 1983). The density distribution of total fish and Penaeid shrimp catch in the northwestern Gulf has historically been highest off Louisiana (NMFS 2012). This may be directly attributable to the extensive estuarine nursery areas of Louisiana (Darnell et al. 1983; Darnell and Kleypas 1987). Recreational fishing, including fishing, crabbing, and shrimping, is popular in the vicinity of the ODMDSs. 10. Potentiality for the development or recruitment of nuisance species in the disposal site. Past placement of maintenancedredged material at the existing ODMDS-East and ODMDS-West has not resulted in the development or recruitment of nuisance species. Therefore, placement of maintenancedredged material at the proposed ODMDS-West is not expected to result in development or recruitment of nuisance species. 11. Existence at or in close proximity to the site of any significant natural or E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 29694 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules cultural features of historical importance. The USACE Submerged Cultural Resource Database contains historical accounts of 52 shipwrecks in the Atchafalaya River and 7 shipwrecks in Atchafalaya Bay. These records indicate historical use of the Atchafalaya Basin. In 1996, a remote sensing survey was conducted in the ODMDS-East. This study found that while several anomaly clusters existed, which may represent shipwrecks, the geomorphologic and bathymetric data indicates that between 17 and 21 feet of sedimentation had occurred in the area between 1839 and 1996. A vessel wrecked more than 157 years ago may have at least 17 feet of sediment covering it. As a result of this survey, it was concluded that the placement of maintenance-dredged materials in the proposed ODMDS-West would not add appreciably to the impact already induced by progradation of the Atchafalaya Delta during the last century. There is no other information suggesting the presence of significant natural or cultural resources of historical importance in the vicinity of the proposed ODMDS-West. The results of the 1996 remote sensing study can be applied to the present study given its proximity to the previously designated ODMDS-East. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 F. Regulatory Requirements 1. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Pursuant to section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) federal agencies are generally required to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Due to the doctrine of functional equivalency, EPA designations of ODMDS under MPRSA are not subject to NEPA’s requirements. EPA believes the NEPA process enhances public participation on such designations, however, and the potential effects of these proposed designations are fully analyzed in a draft EIS on the Designation of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel Ocean Dredged Materal Disposal Site Pursuant to Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. The EPA is the lead agency on the draft EIS and Corps of Engineers a cooperating agency. A Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2011 requesting comments or names for the project mailing list to be submitted by August 22, 2011. A Scoping Input Request Letter requesting VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 comments regarding the scope of the study was sent to Federal, state and local agencies; and interested groups and individuals on September 15, 2011; comments were received through October 31, 2011. Scoping comments were received from 11 entities and will be considered during the study process and in preparation of the draft EIS. A Scoping Report was prepared and is appended to the draft EIS. EPA has relied on information from the draft EIS and Scoping Report in its consideration and application of ocean dumping criteria to the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West it proposes to designate. 2. Endangered Species Act Consultation During development of the site designation draft EIS, EPA and the USACE consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) pursuant to the provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), regarding the potential for designation and use of the ocean disposal sites to adversely affect any threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat. By letter dated January 26, 2012, the USFWS concurred with the determination of EPA and the USACE that the proposed action is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee, pallid sturgeon, or the piping plover or its critical habitat. This consultation process is fully documented in the site designation draft EIS. 3. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996 The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996 (MSFCMA) defines Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as ‘‘those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity.’’ The estuarine and marine waters in St. Mary Parish, as well as the northern Gulf of Mexico, are designated as EFH. In particular, EFH identified by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in St. Mary Parish and adjoining waters—including Atchafalaya Bay—include estuarine water column and estuarine water bottoms, including mud, rock, sand, intertidal vegetation, and shell substrates. No ‘‘Habitat Areas of Particular Concern’’ have been identified in the project vicinity. By letter dated October 19, 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) confirmed this subtital habitat is categorized as essential fish habitat (EFH) under provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens fishery Conservation and Management Act (MagnusonStevens Act). NMFS concurs with the PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 initial evaluation provided in the September 15, 2011 information package that material removed from the bar channel is not suitable for wetland development and its disposal at the proposed location is not expected to have significant impacts to EFH and related marine fishery resources. Coordination with NMFS will be fulfilled through their review and comment on the draft EIS. 4. Coastal Zone Management Act Pursuant to section 307(c)(1) of the Coastal Zone Management Act, federal activities that affect a state’s coastal zone must be consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the state’s approved coastal zone management program. To implement that requirement, federal agencies prepare coastal consistency determinations and submit them to the appropriate state agencies, which may concur in or object to a consistency determination. In connection with its preparation of the draft EIS on the Designation of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site Pursuant to Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1792, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, the EPA prepared a coastal consistency determination the proposed Atchafalaya ODMDS-West designation, which it submitted to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR). By letter of April 30, 2012 LDNR agreed that the proposed designation of the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West was not inconsistent with the approved Louisiana Coastal Resources Program (LCRP). More detailed plans and descriptions of the proposed navigation projects may be needed for LDNR and the Corps to resolve potential issues on the practicability of beneficial use of dredged materials in Louisiana’s coastal zone. Such issues are independent of EPA’s proposed ODMDS designations, however, which only make an offshore disposal option available when the Corps deems beneficial use that might otherwise be required by a state CZM program impracticable. EPA supports beneficial use of dredged material, but ODMDS designations do not in any way require that the Corps forego beneficial use in favor of ocean disposal. 5. Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990 The disposal of dredged materials related to maintenance and construction is an exception to Federal expenditure restrictions related to Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982; therefore, project activities related to disposal are exempt E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules from the prohibitions set forth in this act. H. Administrative Review This rule proposes the designation of an ocean dredged material disposal site pursuant to Section 102 of the MPRSA. This proposed action complies with applicable executive orders and statutory provisions as follows: 1. Executive Order 12866 Under Executive order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) EPA must determine whether the regulatory action is ‘significant’’, and therefore subject to office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and other requirements of the Executive Order. The Order defines ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ as one that is likely to lead to a rule that may: (a) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect in a material way, the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or Tribal governments or communities; (b) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (c) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof: or (d) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive Order. This Proposed Rule should have minimal impact on State, local or Tribal governments or communities. Consequently, EPA has determined that this Proposed Rule is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ under the terms of Executive Order 12866. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 2. 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 OMB. EPA anticipates that few, if any, non-federal entities will use the site as none have in the past. 3. Regulatory Flexibility Act, as Amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) provides that whenever an agency VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 promulgates a final rule under 5 U.S.C. 553, the agency must prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis (RFA) unless the head of the agency certifies that the final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities (5 U.S.C. 604 and 605). The site designation and management actions would only have the effect of setting maximum annual disposal volume and providing a continuing disposal option for dredged material. Consequently, EPA’s action will not impose any additional economic burden on small entities. For this reason, the Regional Administrator certifies, pursuant to section 605(b) of the RFA, that the Proposed Rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 4. Unfunded Mandates Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4) establishes requirements for Federal agencies to assess the effects of their regulatory actions on State, local, and Tribal governments and the private sector. Under section 202 of the UMRA, EPA generally must prepare a written statement, including a cost-benefit analysis for proposed and final rules with ‘‘Federal mandates’’ that may result in expenditures to State, local and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or to the private sector, of $10 million or more in any year. This Proposed Rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory provisions of Title II of the UMRA) for State, local or Tribal governments or the private sector. The Proposed rule would only provide a continuing disposal option for dredged material. Consequently, it imposes no new enforceable duty on any State, local or Tribal governments or the private sector. EPA anticipates that few, if any, nonfederal entities will use the site as none have in the past. 5. Executive Order 13132: Federalism Executive Order 13132, entitled ‘‘Federalism’’ (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure ‘‘meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.’’ ‘‘Policies that have federalism implications’’ is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have ‘‘substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.’’ PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 29695 This Proposed Rule does not have federalism implications. It will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132. The Proposed Rule would only have the effect of providing a continuing disposal option for dredged material. Thus, Executive Order 13132 does not apply to this Proposed Rule. 6. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments Executive Order 13175, entitled ‘‘Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments’’ (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure ‘‘meaningful and timely input by Tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have Tribal implications.’’ This Proposed Rule does not have Tribal implications, as specified in Executive Order 13175. The Proposed Rule would only have the effect of providing a continuing disposal option for dredged material. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this Proposed Rule. 7. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental Health and Safety Risks This Executive Order (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997) applies to any rule that: (1) Is determined to be ‘‘economically significant’’ as defined under Executive Order 12866, and (2) concerns an environmental health or safety risk that EPA has reason to believe may have a disproportionate effect on children. If the regulatory action meets both criteria, EPA must evaluate the environmental health or safety effects of the planned rule on children, and explain why the planned regulation is preferable to other potentially effective and reasonably feasible alternatives considered by EPA. This Proposed Rule is not subject to the Executive Order because it is not economically significant as defined in Executive Order 12866, and because EPA does not have reason to believe the environmental health or safety risks addressed by this action present a disproportionate risk to children. 8. Executive Order 13211: Actions That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use Compliance With Administrative Procedure Act This Proposed Rule is not subject to Executive Order 13211, ‘‘Actions Concerning Regulations That E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 29696 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2013 / Proposed Rules Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use’’ (66 FR 28355 (May 22, 2001)) because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866. The Proposed Rule would only have the effect of providing a continuing disposal option for dredged material. Thus, EPA concluded that this Proposed Rule is not likely to have any adverse energy effects. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 9. National Technology Transfer Advancement Act Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (‘‘NTTAA’’), Public Law 104–113, 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs EPA to use voluntary consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless to do so would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., material specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. The NTTAA directs EPA to provide Congress, through OMB, explanations when the Agency decides not to use available and applicable voluntary consensus standards. This Proposed Rule does not involve technical standards. Therefore, EPA is not considering the use of any voluntary consensus standards. 10. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629) establishes Federal executive policy on environmental justice. Its main provision directs Federal agencies, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, to make environmental justice part of their mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States. EPA determined that this proposed rule will not have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority or low-income populations because it does not affect the level of protection provided to human health or the environment. EPA has assessed the overall protectiveness of designating the disposal site against the criteria established pursuant to the MPRSA to ensure that any adverse impact to the environment will be mitigated to the greatest extent practicable. VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:19 May 20, 2013 Jkt 229001 List of subjects in 40 CFR part 228 Environmental protection, Water pollution control. Dated: May 7, 2013. Samuel Coleman, P.E., Acting Regional Administrator, Region 6. In consideration of the foregoing, EPA is proposing to amend part 228, chapter I of title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows: PART 228—[CRITERIA FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF DISPOSAL SITES FOR OCEAN DUMPING] 1. The authority citation for part 228 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1412 and 1418. 2. Section 228.15 is amended by adding paragraph (j)(22) to read as follows: ■ § 228.15 Dumping sites designated on a final basis. * * * * * (j) * * * (22) Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf, and Black, LA (ODMDSWest) (i) Location (NAD83): 29°22′06″ N, 91°27′38″ W; 29°20′30″ N, 91°25′13″ W; 29°09′16″ N, 91°35′12″ W; 29°10′52″ N, 91°37′33″ W; thence to point of beginning. (ii) Size: 48 square miles (iii) Depth: Ranges from 4 to 23 feet (iv) Primary Use: Dredged material. (v) Period of Use: Continuing use. (vi) Restrictions: Disposal shall be limited to dredged material from the Atchafalaya River Bar channel that complies with EPA’s Ocean Dumping Regulations. Dredged material that does not meet the criteria set forth in 40 CFR part 227 shall not be placed at the site. Disposal operations shall be conducted in accordance with requirements specified in a Site Management and Monitoring Plan developed by EPA and USACE, to be reviewed periodically, at least every 10 years. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2013–12089 Filed 5–20–13; 8:45 am] Federal Emergency Management Agency 44 CFR Part 67 [Docket ID FEMA–2013–0002; Internal Agency Docket No. FEMA–B–1196] Proposed Flood Elevation Determinations for Lake County, Illinois, and Incorporated Areas Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS. ACTION: Proposed rule; withdrawal. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is withdrawing its proposed rule concerning proposed flood elevation determinations for Lake County, Illinois, and Incorporated Areas DATES: This withdrawal is effective on May 21, 2013. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. FEMA–B– 1196, to Luis Rodriguez, Chief, Engineering Management Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646–4064, or (email) Luis.Rodriguez3@fema.dhs.gov. Luis Rodriguez, Chief, Engineering Management Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646–4064, or (email) Luis.Rodriguez3@fema.dhs.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: On July 5, 2011, FEMA published a proposed rulemaking at 76 FR 39063, proposing flood elevation determinations along one or more flooding sources in Lake County, Illinois. Because FEMA has issued a Revised Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map, and a Flood Insurance Study report, featuring no new flood hazard analysis and unchanged base flood elevations, the proposed rulemaking is being withdrawn. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4104; 44 CFR 67.4. BILLING CODE 6560–50–P PO 00000 DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency. [FR Doc. 2013–12011 Filed 5–20–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–12–P Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 98 (Tuesday, May 21, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 29687-29696]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-12089]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

40 CFR Part 228

[EPA-R06-OW-2013-0221; FRL-9814-7]


Ocean Dumping; Atchafalaya-West Ocean Dredged Material Disposal 
Site Designation

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The EPA is proposing to re-designate the existing Marine 
Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) Section 
103(b) Atchafalaya-West Ocean Disposal Site (ODMDS-West) as a permanent 
MPRSA Section 102(c) ocean dredged material disposal site (ODMDS) 
located adjacent to and west of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel 
(ARBC) of Louisiana. The approval for the ODMDS-West use expired in 
August 2012; therefore, the site can no longer accept shoal material 
dredged from the ARBC unless it is re-designated as a MPRSA Section 
102(c) site by EPA. Studies have shown that use of the ODMDS-West 
reduces the amount and rate of shoal material runback into the ARBC, 
and thus, decreases the overall annual maintenance dredging effort 
needed for the ARBC while providing vessels with a longer period of 
safe navigation access prior to a maintenance dredging event. 
Therefore, there is a need to designate a permanent ODMDS on the west 
side of the ARBC. Approximately 10.8 million cubic yards will be placed 
every 7 months and must be conducted in accordance with the Site 
Management and Monitoring Plan. The proposed ODMDS will be monitored 
periodically to ensure that the site operates as expected.

DATES: Comments. Comments on this proposed rule and draft Environmental 
Impact Statement must be received on or before July 5, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket No. EPA-R06-OW-
2013-0221, by one of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov; 
follow the online instruction for submitting comments.
     Email: Dr. Jessica Franks at franks.jessica@epa.gov.
     Fax: Dr. Jessica Franks, Marine and Coastal Section (6WQ-
EC) at fax number 214-665-6689.
     Mail: Dr. Jessica Franks, Marine and Coastal Section (6WQ-
EC), Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: (6WQ-EC), 1445 Ross 
Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket No.EPA-R06-OW-2013-
0221. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in 
the public docket without change and may be made available online at 
www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or email. The 
www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous access'' system, which 
means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you 
provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment 
directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your email 
address will be automatically captured and included as part of the 
comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the 
Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you 
include your name and other contact information in the body of your 
comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your 
comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for 
clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic 
files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of 
encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the 
www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Marine and Coastal 
Section (6WQ-EC), Environmental Protection Agency, 1445 Ross Avenue, 
Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733. The file will be made available 
by appointment for public inspection in the Region 6 FOIA Review Room 
between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays except for legal 
holidays. Contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT paragraph below. If possible, please make the appointment at 
least two working days in advance of your visit. There will be a 15 
cent per page fee for making photocopies of

[[Page 29688]]

documents. On the day of the visit, please check in at the EPA Region 6 
reception area at 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 700, Dallas, Texas.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica Franks, Ph.D., Marine and 
Coastal Section (6WQ-EC), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, 
1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 700, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733, telephone (214) 
665-8335, fax number (214) 665-6689; email address 
franks.jessica@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

A. Potentially Affected Entities
B. Background
C. Disposal Volume Limit
D. Site Management and Monitoring Plan
E. Ocean Dumping Site Designation Criteria
    --General Selection Criteria
    --Specific Selection Criteria
F. Regulatory Requirements
    1. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
    2. Endangered Species Act Consultation
    3. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 
1996
    4. Coastal Zone Management Act
    5. Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990
G. Administrative Review
    1. Executive Order 12886
    2. Paperwork Reduction Act
    3. Regulatory Flexibility Act, as Amended by the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996
    4. Unfunded Mandates
    5. Executive Order 13132: Federalism
    6. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With 
Indian Tribal Governments
    7. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From 
Environmental Health and Safety Risks
    8. Executive Order 13211: Actions That Significantly Affect 
Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use Compliance With Administrative 
Procedure Act
    9. National Technology Transfer Advancement Act
    10. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address 
Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income 
Populations

    The supporting document for this site designation is the draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Designation of the 
Atchafalaya River Bar Channel Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site 
Pursuant to Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and 
Sanctuaries, Act of 1972; St. Mary Parish, Louisiana dated March 2013 
prepared by the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This document is 
available for public inspection at the following locations:
    1. Environmental Protection Agency, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, 
Dallas, Texas 75202-2733.
    2. EPA Web site: https://www.epa.gov/region6/water/ecopro/current_action.html html.
    3. Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov; follow 
the online instruction for submitting comments.

A. Potentially Affected Entities

    Entities potentially affected by this action are persons, 
organizations, or government bodies seeking to dispose of dredged 
material in ocean waters at the ODMDS-West, under the Marine Protection 
Research and Sanctuaries Act, 33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq. This Rule would be 
primarily of relevance to parties seeking permits from the USACE to 
transport dredged material for the purpose of disposal into ocean 
waters at the ODMDS-West, as well as the USACE itself (when proposing 
to dispose of dredged material at the ODMDS-West). Potentially affected 
categories and entities seeking to use the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West and 
thus subject to this Rule include:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Examples of potentially
                Category                        regulated persons
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Federal government.....................  USACE Civil Works and O & M
                                          projects; other Federal
                                          agencies, including the
                                          Department of Defense.
Industry and general public............  Port authorities, marinas and
                                          harbors, shipyards and marine
                                          repair facilities, berth
                                          owners.
State, local and tribal governments....  Governments owning and/or
                                          responsible for ports,
                                          harbors, and/or berths,
                                          Government agencies requiring
                                          disposal of dredged material
                                          associated with public works
                                          projects.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This table is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a 
guide for readers regarding entities likely to be affected by this 
action. EPA notes, however, that nothing in this Rule alters in any 
way, the jurisdiction of EPA, or the types of entities regulated under 
the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act. To determine if you 
or your organization may be potentially affected by this action, you 
should carefully consider whether you expect to propose ocean disposal 
of dredged material, in accordance with the Purpose and Scope 
provisions of 40 CFR 220.1, and if you wish to use the ODMDS-West. For 
any questions regarding the applicability of this action to a 
particular entity, please refer to the contact person listed in the 
preceding FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

B. Background

    Ocean disposal of dredged materials is regulated under Title I of 
the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA; 33 U.S.C. 
1401 et seq.). The EPA and the USACE share responsibility for the 
management of ocean disposal of dredged material. Under Section 102 of 
MPRSA; EPA is responsible for designating an acceptable location for 
the ODMDS. With concurrence from EPA, the USACE issues permits under 
MPRSA Section 103 for ocean disposal of dredged material deemed 
suitable according to EPA criteria in MPRSA Section 102 and EPA 
regulations in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 227 (40 
CFR part 227). In lieu of the permit procedure for a federal project 
involving dredged material, the USACE may issue and abide by 
regulations using the same criteria, other factors to be evaluated, 
same procedures and same requirements that apply to the issuance of 
permits.
    Pursuant to its voluntary NEPA policy, published at 63 FR 58045 
(October 29, 1998), EPA typically relies on the EIS process to enhance 
public participation on the proposed designation of an ODMDS. A site 
designation EIS evaluates alternative sites and examines the potential 
environmental impacts associated with disposal of dredged material at 
various locations. Such an EIS first demonstrates the need for the 
ODMDS designation action (40 CFR 6.203(a) and 40 CFR 1502.13) by 
describing available or potential aquatic and non-aquatic (i.e., land-
based) alternatives and the consequences of not designating a site--the 
No Action Alternative. Once the need for an ocean disposal site is 
established, potential sites are screened for feasibility through a 
``Zone of Siting Feasibility'' (ZSF) process. Potential alternative 
sites are then evaluated

[[Page 29689]]

using EPA's ocean disposal criteria at 40 CFR Part 228 and compared in 
the EIS. Of the sites that satisfy these criteria, the site that best 
complies is selected as the preferred alternative for designation 
through a rulemaking proposal published in the Federal Register (FR), 
as here.
    Formal designation of an ODMDS in the Federal Register and 
codification in the Code of Federal Regulations does not constitute 
approval of dredged material for ocean disposal. Site designation 
merely identifies a suitable ocean location in the event that dredged 
material is later approved for ocean disposal. Designation of an ODMDS 
provides an ocean disposal alternative for consideration in the review 
of each proposed dredging project. Before any ocean disposal may take 
place, the dredging project proponent must demonstrate a need for ocean 
disposal, including consideration of alternatives. Alternatives to 
ocean disposal, including the option for beneficial re-use of dredged 
material, are evaluated for each dredging project that may result in 
the ocean disposal of dredged materials from such project. Ocean 
disposal of dredged material is only allowed after both EPA and USACE 
determine that the proposed activity is environmentally acceptable 
under criteria codified at 40 CFR Part 227 and 33 CFR Part 336, 
respectively. In addition, ongoing management of these ODMDSs would be 
subject to Site Management and Monitoring Plans (SMMPs) required by 
MPRSA section 102(c)(3)(F) and (c)(4), which are discussed more fully 
below. Decisions to allow ocean disposal are made on a case-by-case 
basis through the MPRSA Section 103 permitting process, resulting in a 
USACE permit or its equivalent process for USACE's Civil Works 
projects. Material proposed for disposal at a designated ODMDS must 
conform to EPA's permitting criteria for acceptable quality (40 CFR 
Parts 225 and 227), as determined from physical, chemical, and 
bioassay/bioaccumulation tests prescribed by national sediment testing 
protocols (EPA and USACE 1991). Only clean non-toxic dredged material 
is acceptable for ocean disposal. The proposed ODMDS will be subject to 
ongoing monitoring and management to ensure continued protection of the 
marine environment. This ocean disposal site designation is based on 
EPA's general and specific criteria as evaluated in the March 2013 
``Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Designation of the Atchafalaya 
River Bar Channel Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site Pursuant to 
Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act 
of 1972, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana'' (Draft EIS).
    The Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf, and Black, Louisiana 
(Figure 1-1), project was authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 
1968 (Pub. L. 90-483). Historically, the Atchafalaya River and Bayous 
Chene, Boeuf, and Black, Louisiana, navigation channel has been dredged 
to 24 feet Mean Low Gulf (MLG) which includes 20 feet for the 
authorized channel dimension plus 2 feet advanced maintenance and 2 
feet of allowable overdepth. Material removed from the ARBC suitable 
for beneficial use (i.e., between ARBC Stations 475+00 and 650+00) has 
been placed in one of two adjacent Bird Island disposal sites, pursuant 
to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1977. Material that 
could not be used beneficially (i.e., between ARBC Stations 650+00 and 
1340+00) has been placed (prior to 2002) at the existing Marine 
Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) Section 
102(c) Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site (ODMDS) on the east side of 
the channel. This ODMDS is referred to as ODMDS-East. Since 2002, 
however, material not suitable for beneficial use has been placed at a 
temporary (i.e., 5-year) ODMDS on the west side of the channel under 
the authority of MPRSA Section 103(b) (the ODMDS-West). In 2007, the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District (MVN) requested, and 
received, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6 
(EPA), a 5-year extension for the continued use of the MPRSA Section 
103(b) ODMDS-West. The approval for the ODMDS-West use expired in 
August 2012; therefore, the site can no longer accommodate shoal 
material dredged from the ARBC unless it is re-designated as a MPRSA 
Section 102(c) site by EPA.
    EPA has determined that the ODMDS-West alternative identified in 
the draft EIS is the environmentally preferred site, and this action 
proposes to designate the ODMDS-West as an ocean dredged material 
disposal site, located in Atchafalaya Bay, approximately 19 miles from 
the mainland coast and the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. The proposed 
ODMDS-West is rectangular, approximately 3 miles wide by 16 miles long, 
located west of and parallel to the ARBC. The depth of the site ranges 
from 4 to 23 feet MLG, and the total area is approximately 48 square 
miles. The action provides for adequate, environmentally-acceptable 
ocean disposal site capacity for suitable dredged material generated 
from dredging projects in and along the ARBC by formally designating 
the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West.

C. Disposal Volume Limit

    The proposed action would formally designate the Atchafalaya ODMDS-
West for placement of approximately 10.8 cubic yards (cy) of 
maintenance material from the ARBC on an annual basis. The need for 
ongoing ocean disposal capacity is based on average historical dredging 
volumes from the ARBC navigational channel since 2002.

D. Site Management and Monitoring Plan

    Continuing use of the site requires verification that significant 
impacts do not occur outside of the disposal site boundaries through 
implementation of the Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP) 
developed as part of the proposed action and included as Appendix A to 
the draft EIS developed for the proposed designation of the ODMDS-West. 
The main purpose of the SMMP is to provide a structured framework to 
ensure that dredged material disposal activities will not unreasonably 
degrade or endanger human health, welfare, the marine environment, or 
economic potentialities (MPRSA Section 103(a)). Two main objectives for 
management of the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West are: (1) to ensure that only 
dredged material that satisfies the criteria set forth in 40 CFR part 
227 Subparts B, C, D, E, and G and Part 228.4(e) and is suitable for 
unrestricted placement at the ODMDS and; (2) avoidance of excessive 
mounding, either within the site boundaries or in areas adjacent to the 
site, as a direct result of placement operations.
    The EPA and USACE New Orleans District personnel would achieve 
these SMMP objectives by jointly administering the following 
activities: (1) Regulation and administration of ocean dumping permits; 
(2) development and maintenance of a site monitoring program; (3) 
evaluation of permit compliance and monitoring results.
    The SMMP includes periodic physical monitoring to confirm that 
disposal material is deposited within the seafloor disposal boundary, 
as well as bathymetric surveys to confirm that there is no excessive 
mounding or short-term transport of material beyond the limits of the 
ODMDS-West. Physical and chemical sediment and biological monitoring 
requirements are described in the SMMP and are required to be conducted 
based on the Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean

[[Page 29690]]

Disposal Testing Manual, EPA 503/8-91/001 and the Joint EPA-USACE 
Regional Implementation Agreement (RIA) procedures. Results will be 
used to confirm that dredged material actually disposed at the site 
satisfies the criteria set forth in 40 CFR part 227 Subparts B, C, D, 
E, and G and Part 228.4(e) and is suitable for unrestricted ocean 
disposal. Other activities implemented through the SMMP to achieve 
these objectives include: (1) Regulating quantities and types of 
material to be disposed, including the time, rates, and methods of 
disposal; and (2) recommending changes to site use requirements, 
including disposal amounts or timing, based on periodic evaluation of 
site monitoring results.

E. Ocean Dumping Site Designation Criteria

    Five general criteria and 11 specific site selection criteria are 
used in the selection and approval of ocean disposal sites for 
continued use (40 CFR 228.5 and 40 CFR 228.6(a)).

General Selection Criteria

    1. The dumping of materials into the ocean will be permitted only 
at sites or in areas selected to minimize the interference of disposal 
activities with other activities in the marine environment, 
particularly avoiding areas of existing fisheries or shellfisheries, 
and regions of heavy commercial or recreational navigation.
    The Atchafalaya ODMDS-West is located adjacent to and parallel to 
the ARBC. This location reduces the distance that the maintenance-
dredged material must be transported, minimizing interference with 
other activities in the marine environment. There may be some short-
term interference with fishing activities during placement operations. 
No interference with these or other marine activities is expected 
outside the brief periods of placement operations. There have been no 
impacts to existing oyster leases located northeast of the ODMDS area 
near Point au Fer from the use of the existing ODMDS-East, or ODMDS-
West (which has been used since 2002), and no impact is expected to 
occur in the future as a result of using the proposed ODMDS-West.
    2. Locations and boundaries of disposal sites will be so chosen 
that temporary perturbations in water quality or other environmental 
conditions during initial mixing caused by disposal operations anywhere 
within the site can be expected to be reduced to normal ambient 
seawater levels or to undetectable contaminant concentrations or 
effects before reaching any beach, shoreline, marine sanctuary, or 
known geographically limited fishery or shellfishery.
    Placement of maintenance-dredged material will produce a turbidity 
plume. This plume will disperse to the point where it would be 
indistinguishable from the turbidity naturally occurring in the area. 
Turbidity resulting from maintenance-dredged material placement is not 
expected to be distinguishable from the natural turbidity occurring in 
the vicinity of North Point and in Atchafalaya Bay, except temporarily. 
There are no marine sanctuaries in the immediate vicinity of the ODMDS 
(USFWS 1981). Fishnet Bank, the nearest protected Area of Biological 
Significance, is approximately 104 miles south of the ODMDS. Any 
impacts from placement of dredged material are expected to be minor. 
Based on the current regime noted in Section 3.1.3.2, the transport of 
suspended materials from the ODMDS would mainly be parallel to the 
coastline, and concentrations of suspended materials produced during 
dredging operations are expected to be within background levels within 
a few miles or so of the ODMDS (May 1973). There are no Public Oyster 
Areas within the ODMDS-East or ODMDS-West, and the nearest oyster 
leases are approximately 4 miles east of the ARBC and ODMDSs, near 
Point au Fer (LDNR 2012). The potential impact on oyster beds in nearby 
Atchafalaya Bay is expected to be minimal. These organisms, as well as 
others in the region, are naturally subjected to periodic episodes of 
high, suspended-solids concentrations from wave-induced resuspension of 
nearshore sediments and from the waters of the Atchafalaya River.
    3. If at any time during or after disposal site evaluation studies, 
it is determined that existing disposal sites presently approved on an 
interim basis for ocean dumping do not meet the criteria for site 
selection set forth in Sections 228.5 through 228.6, the use of such 
sites will be terminated as soon as suitable alternate disposal sites 
can be designated.
    This criterion does not apply to the proposed ODMDS-West since it 
is not an existing site approved on an interim basis. However, studies 
to date indicate that the proposed ODMDS-West meets the requirements of 
the MPRSA. Surveys of the site and vicinity indicated that water 
quality, sediments, and biological life were generally similar to 
surrounding areas. An existing designated ODMDS (the ODMDS-East) is 
located immediately across the navigation channel from the proposed 
site. No adverse environmental effects were detected outside the site 
boundaries during site investigation surveys (IEC 1983; Dettmann and 
Tracey 1990; Flemer et al. 1994; Trulli 1996) of ODMDS-West.
    4. The sizes of the ocean disposal sites will be limited in order 
to localize for identification and control any immediate adverse 
impacts and permit the implementation of effective monitoring and 
surveillance programs to prevent adverse long-range impacts. The size, 
configuration, and location of any disposal site will be determined as 
a part of the disposal site evaluation or designation study.
    The size of the ODMDS-West has been identified to cover an area as 
small as possible to reasonably meet the criteria stated at 40 CFR 
228.6(a) for the ARBC project and for efficient placement of material 
dredged from the ARBC. The size and location of the proposed ODMDS-West 
also minimizes the return of dredged material from the ODMDS to the 
channel. This consideration led to the establishment of a long site 
parallel to the channel with an area of 54 square miles. The site lends 
itself to surveillance of individual dredged material placement 
operations and long-term monitoring. The configuration of the ODMDS-
West limits its overall area to a dimension of 18.0 miles long by 3.0 
miles wide. The width of 3.0 miles is typically the pumping distance at 
which a hydraulic pipeline cutterhead suction dredge may no longer be 
cost effective without a booster pump, depending on the size of the 
dredge. Teeter (2003) recommended westward disposal at the greatest 
practicable distance from the channel to minimize runback into the 
channel. The orientation of the ODMDS-West broadside to the prevailing 
currents in the area increases the chance that material placed in the 
ODMDS-West will be moved from the site before undesirable mounding can 
occur.
    5. The EPA will, wherever feasible, designate ocean dumping sites 
beyond the edge of the continental shelf and other such sites that have 
been historically used.
    In this area of the Gulf of Mexico, an ODMDS beyond the continental 
shelf would be at least 84 miles from the area to be dredged. A dredged 
material placement site beyond the continental shelf would not be 
feasible due to, among other things, increased safety risks, increased 
cost of dredged material transportation, and increased costs for site 
characterization, monitoring, and surveillance studies.

[[Page 29691]]

Specific Selection Criteria

    1. Geographical position, depth of water, bottom topography, and 
distance from the coast.
    The proposed ODMDS-West is a 16.0-mile long by 3.0 mile-wide 
rectangular area located west of and parallel to the ARBC and bound by 
the following coordinates (NAD 83): 29[deg]22'06'' N, 91[deg]27'38'' W; 
29[deg]20' 30'' N, 91[deg]25'13'' W; 29[deg]09'16'' N, 91[deg] 35'12'' 
W; and 29[deg]10'52'' N, 91[deg]37'33'' W. The depth of the site ranges 
from 4 to 23 feet MLG, and the total area is approximately 48 square 
miles. The center of the ODMDS-West is approximately 19 miles from the 
mouth of the Atchafalaya River. The ODMDS-West is located in the 
nearshore area of the plain. Except for being located adjacent to the 
dredged channel, the area occupied by the ODMDS is typical in depth and 
bottom topography to the continental shelf in the vicinity of the 
Atchafalaya River Delta.
    2. Location in relation to breeding, spawning, nursery, feeding, or 
passage areas of living resources in adult or juvenile phases.
    The northwestern Gulf of Mexico is a breeding, spawning, nursery, 
and feeding area for shrimp, menhaden, and bottom fish. Many of the 
species migrate seasonally between estuaries and the Gulf. Because the 
timing of species movements vary, some migration can occur at almost 
any time of the year (Day et al., 1989).
    The proposed ODMDS-West is located in a region dominated by species 
that are estuarine-dependent (Darnell et al., 1983; Phillips and James, 
1988; Day et al., 1989). Commercially important species likely found in 
the area include white shrimp, brown shrimp, Gulf menhaden, and sand 
sea trout. Commercially important shellfish and fish that inhabit the 
nearby bay environment include oyster, blue crab, black drum, white 
shrimp, and brown shrimp.
    Limited interferences with nearshore fisheries may occur during 
placement of maintenance-dredged material. The Atchafalaya estuary has 
a broader expanse of direct connection with the open Gulf of Mexico 
than any other estuary along the Louisiana coast. A small portion of 
this passage route may impede movement/migration of some marine 
organisms (e.g., shrimp) during periods of active dredging and 
placement. The settling of dredged material and the sediment plume in 
and near the ODMDS might also impede localized movement/migration of 
marine organisms on the continental shelf. However, the effect of these 
impediments on the movement/migration of marine organism populations 
affected would be very small and probably undetectable. The stress and 
possible mortality of individual organisms encountering adverse 
conditions during dredging and placement operations in the ODMDS would 
be negligible compared to the passage of the far greater majority of 
individuals crossing into or out of the estuary and at other locations. 
Additionally, any impact would also occur at any other ODMDS location 
near the ARBC.
    Placement of material at the proposed ODMDS-West would have 
negligible effects on endangered and threatened species. Occurrences of 
whales off Louisiana are considered rare and because the animals 
generally inhabit waters far deeper than those in the proposed ODMDS, 
it is unlikely that maintenance-dredged material placement operations 
would impact whales.
    Sea turtles could potentially be found in the proposed ODMDS-West, 
although the persistent high turbidity makes the area unsuitable for 
regular use of this area by sea turtles, which generally depend on 
their sight to feed. Dredging operations might affect sea turtles 
through incidental take. Hopper dredging has been identified as a 
source of mortality to sea turtles in inshore waters (Dickerson and 
Nelson 1990; Magnuson et al. 1990; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
[USFWS] and NMFS 1991, 1992), not placement operations. Designation of 
the ODMDS-West has been requested for the placement of future 
maintenance material dredged from the ARBC by hydraulic cutterhead 
pipeline dredging and hopper dredging. If hopper dredges are used, 
there is a possibility of impact to sea turtles, as there would be no 
matter where the ODMDS is located. Hydraulic cutterhead pipeline 
dredging operations have not been identified as a source of sea turtle 
mortality. Hopper dredging will be conducted in accordance with all 
reasonable and prudent measures and implementing terms and conditions 
provided to MVN by NMFS in its 2007 Biological Opinion (NMFS 2007) and 
any subsequent Biological Opinion, to avoid sea turtle mortality.
    3. Location in relation to beaches and other amenity areas.
    The nearest point of land is North Point of Point au Fer Island 
that is approximately 2.5 miles from the northeast end of the proposed 
ODMDS-West. There are no recreational parks or beaches near the 
proposed ODMDS-West. It may be possible to observe the placement plume 
from boats in the vicinity during the active period of maintenance-
dredged material placement within the site. The plume resulting from 
the placement of dredged material is not expected to be visible from 
land because of the distance from land and the existing turbid nature 
of the water in the area. The plume is expected to dissipate quickly 
after completion of the placement operations. Except for the minor 
effects of these limited observations, there should be no effects to 
the aesthetics of the area.
    4. Types and quantities of wastes proposed to be disposed of, and 
proposed methods of release, including methods of packaging the waste, 
if any.
    Material dredged from the ARBC is mainly comprised of silt, with 
lesser amounts of sand and clay (Dettmann and Tracey 1990; PBS&J 2002; 
PBS&J 2002). Sediment sampling as part of the contaminant assessments 
conducted by PBS&J (2008) found dredged material from the ARBC 
consisting of approximately 7-12 percent sand, 81-88 percent silt, and 
6-7 percent clay. Based on dredging records since 2002, the volume of 
maintenance-dredged material to be removed from the ARBC for disposal 
to the ODMDS-West is approximately 10.8 mcy per fiscal year. Material 
is removed from the ARBC using a hydraulic cutterhead pipeline dredge 
and released within the ODMDS as uncohesive slurry. The ARBC is dredged 
annually and the average length of the dredging contract is 60 to 90 
days. It is expected that future disposal operations will follow the 
past disposal pattern with respect to types, quantities, and methods of 
release. Any material disposed of at the site would be required to 
comply with the criteria of the Ocean Dumping Regulations (40 CFR Pans 
220 to 229). None of the material will be packaged in any way.
    5. Feasibility of surveillance and monitoring.
    The proposed ODMDS-West is in relatively shallow water and is close 
to shore, which facilitates surveillance and monitoring of the site. 
Operational observations can be made using shore-based radar, aircraft, 
and day-use boats. A draft Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP) 
incorporating monitoring requirements has been developed jointly by EPA 
and MVN for the proposed ODMDS-West and existing ODMDS-East. The 
primary purpose of the Site Monitoring Program is to evaluate the 
impact of dredged material on the marine environment. The SMMP is 
included in Appendix A of this draft EIS.
    6. Dispersal, horizontal transport, and vertical mixing 
characteristics of the

[[Page 29692]]

area, including prevailing current direction and velocity, if any.
    Current patterns in the vicinity of the proposed ODMDS are highly 
complex. Although tides, Loop current intrusions, and river flow may 
affect the local currents, these currents are influenced predominately 
by winds (Phillips and James, 1988). Thus, the direction and velocity 
of the currents vary throughout the year. Winds are a particularly 
strong driving force in late autumn, winter, and early spring. Net 
water flow in the winter is to the northwest; however, rapid flow 
reversals to the southeast occur periodically in concert with wind 
direction (Crout and Hamiter 1981; Phillips and James 1988; Walker and 
Hammack 2000). The near shore current patterns are somewhat more 
complex in summer. In the absence of strong winds and the presence of a 
stratified water column, current patterns become considerably less 
distinct. Net flow in summer can be either to the east or west (Crout 
and Hamiter 1981; Phillips and James 1988; Walker and Hammack 2000). 
Spinoff eddies from the Loop current occasionally enter the region, 
producing flows to the southeast near the ARBC (Weissberg et al. 1980a, 
1980b).
    Current speeds generally range from 10 to 30 centimeters per second 
(cm/s) in the vicinity of the proposed ODMDS. Minimum speeds of 5 to 30 
cm/s occur in June, July, and August; whereas the highest recorded 
current speeds in the vicinity range from 70 to 140 cm/s and occur 
during strong winter storms (Weissberg et al. 1980a, 1980b). Stagnant 
periods with little or no current motion, lasting as long as 6 days, 
have been recorded in April, May, and July (Weissberg et al. 1980a, 
1980b). Current speeds may reach 200 cm/s during hurricanes, which 
occur, on average, approximately once every four years (Weissberg et 
al. 1980a, 1980b; Phillips and James 1988; NOAA 2013a).
    In the absence of strong currents, the bulk of the maintenance-
dredged material settles on the bottom of the particular area of a site 
being used at that time. A portion of the plume (fines) will be 
transported in the direction of the current over a wider area of the 
disposal site and, to some extent, outside the disposal site. This 
material will eventually settle over a wide area. Plume measurements 
were taken by Schubel et al. (1978) during dredged material disposal 
operations at the ODMDS-East. Background suspended solids 
concentrations were approximately 100 mg/L and currents were to the 
southwest at 9 to 19 cm/s. During placement operations, suspended 
solids concentrations as high as 300 mg/L were found a quarter of a 
mile downcurrent from the end of the discharge pipe. During another set 
of observations made when current directions were to the west and to 
the northeast, suspended solids concentrations of 300 mg/L were 
measured at 0.6 to 1.0 mile downcurrent from the end of the discharge 
pipe. For comparison purposes, total suspended solids (TSS) 
concentrations in this area of the continental shelf normally range 
between 250 to 400 mg/L.
    The maintenance-dredged material is proportionally very small 
compared to the sediment load delivered by the discharge of the 
Atchafalaya River to the area. During disposal operations, a temporary 
mound of maintenance-dredged material may be initially formed within 
the ODMDS. However, flow of the noncohesive slurry and resuspension of 
the maintenance-dredged material results in the disappearance of the 
mound through dispersal and horizontal transport. The net result would 
be the remixing of maintenance-dredged material with other materials 
from the original source. The natural sediment load of the Atchafalaya 
is estimated to be approximately 40 to 50 percent of the combined 
discharge from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers, which is 210 
million tons/year (Walker and Hammack 2000).
    According to a sediment budget modeled by Teeter et al. (2003) for 
a hypothetical 10-mcy shoal in the ARBC, placement of material in the 
ODMDS-West would reduce runback to the channel by 5 mcy but increase 
lateral inflow by the same amount, when compared to placement in ODMDS-
East. Although placement in ODMDS-West reduced runback to the channel, 
within approximately 10 weeks, the difference was made up through 
lateral inflow. Based on this analysis, the annual potential lateral 
source is estimated at approximately 30 mcy, which is a reasonable 
rate, given the parameters identified during the study (Teeter et al. 
2003). Thus, while placing material on the west side of the ARBC did 
not eliminate shoaling, it did reduce runback of material into the 
channel, when compared to placing material on the east side of the 
channel. The 10-week decrease in the amount of time it takes material 
to reenter the ARBC, then, would decrease the overall annual 
maintenance dredging effort (i.e., dredging frequency) needed for the 
ARBC while providing vessels with a longer period of safe navigation 
access between maintenance dredging events.
    7. Existence and effects of current and previous discharges and 
dumping in the area (including cumulative effects).
    The area proposed for selection has been used for the disposal of 
maintenance-dredged material since 2002. Bathymetric surveys taken 
prior to and after disposal operations indicate there is no persistent 
mounding and the maintenance-dredged material is relatively quickly 
dispersed. No measurable effects from previous disposals have been 
noticed.
    Studies conducted on the ODMDS-East in the early 1980s and 1990s 
did not identify effects from dredged material placement in the water 
column, sediments, or benthos of the site. These studies were conducted 
during placement activities, as well as 10 and 15 months following 
placement activities (USAC, 1996). Although these studies were 
conducted at the ODMDS-East, it is reasonable to expect that, because 
of the proximity of the proposed ODMDS-West, there would also be no 
effects from placement at ODMDS-West.
    8. Interference with shipping, fishing, recreation, mineral 
extraction, desalination, fish and shellfish culture, areas of special 
scientific importance, and other legitimate uses of the ocean.
    The proposed ODMDS-West is outside the navigation channel and 
therefore does not interfere with shipping. The shallow nature of the 
continental shelf in the area requires ships to remain in the 
navigation channels away from the ODMDS-West. Smaller recreational and 
commercial fishing vessels will pass over the ODMDS-West without 
interference from dredged material mounds that may temporarily form and 
that are expected to be relatively low and to disperse relatively 
quickly. Hydraulic cutterhead dredges and disposal pipelines may cause 
minor interference, but are not expected to interfere with shipping 
traffic. All dredging and placement operations are closely coordinated 
with the USCG with issuance of a Notice to Mariners to dredging 
operators and the shipping interests to avoid interference with 
traffic.
    Recreational fishing and boating takes place throughout the area of 
the ODMDS-West. Ship Shoal is located approximately 29 miles east of 
the ODMDS-West; Trinity and Tiger Shoals are about 28 miles west of the 
site. Smaller fishing shoals are within 2.9 miles of the ODMDS-West and 
Point au Fer Reef is located just north of the site. There may be some 
short-term interference with recreational activities at the ODMDS-West, 
particularly during disposal operations. The plumes of

[[Page 29693]]

maintenance-dredged material and activities associated with the 
dredging operations could have a minor impact on targeted fish stocks, 
which may tend to avoid the area of active placement, temporarily 
affecting recreational fishing in the area. This interference would be 
short-term and restricted to the relatively small area of the ODMDS-
West being used for dredged material placement at any particular time. 
Trawling and crabbing in the channel and near the placement area may 
experience interference during dredging operations.
    There are numerous active oil and gas platforms located in the west 
and south end of the ODMDS-West and other platforms are located 
adjacent to the east, south, and west of the site. Additionally, 
several large natural gas pipelines cross the ODMDS-West. Because of 
the dispersive nature of the site, past experience with dredged 
material placement has not indicated interference with oil and gas 
exploration or production. No other types of mineral extraction are 
taking place either within the site or within the general vicinity of 
the site. It is not expected that use of the site for placement of 
maintenance-dredged material would interfere with any other legitimate 
use of the ocean in this general area.
    No desalination or artificial finfish or shellfish culture 
facilities are located within the site. The nearest oyster leases are 
located approximately 4 miles east of the ODMDS-West, near Point au Fer 
(Ernie Dugas 1995, personal communication, Oyster Survey Section LDWF; 
USACE 1996; LDNR 2012). Fish and shellfish that naturally occur within 
the site may be affected by placement of dredge material at the site, 
particularly bottom-dwelling organisms that may be trapped and 
smothered. Material dispersed from the site is expected to settle in 
thin layers and be mixed with the naturally occurring sediments in the 
region. Thus, dispersion and transport of this material outside of the 
site should not adversely affect the fish and shellfish in the area. 
Additionally, because the transport of suspended material from the 
ODMDS-West would be primarily parallel to the coastline and in a 
generally westward direction for much of the year, effect of placement 
operations on oyster lease areas near Point au Fer would be minimal and 
consistent with natural conditions. There have been no impacts to 
oyster leases from the use of the interim-designated ODMDS-West, thus 
no impact is expected from its continued use.
    Two areas designated as wildlife management areas or wildlife 
refuges and that are used for recreational use are located in the 
project area. The 140,000-acre Atchafalaya Delta WMA, managed by the 
LDWF, encompasses the developing delta in Atchafalaya Bay. The 
Atchafalaya Delta WMA is located immediately adjacent to the upper end 
of the existing Section 103(b) ODMDS-West. The Shell Keys National 
Wildlife Refuge and Russell Sage--Marsh Island State Wildlife Refuge is 
located approximately 29 miles west of the ODMDS-West. The transport of 
suspended materials from the ODMDS-West would mainly be parallel to the 
coastline, and concentrations of suspended materials produced during 
dredging operations are expected to be within background levels within 
a few miles or so of the ODMDS-West (May 1973). Suspended materials 
originating from the ODMDS-West may drift into adjacent portions of the 
Atchafalaya Delta WMA; however, the effects of these suspended 
materials would likely be indiscernible from ambient conditions in 
these areas. There have been no significant impacts to these areas from 
use of the interim-designated ODMDS-West, and no impacts are expected 
from its continued use.
    Various universities and state and Federal agencies have studied 
the biological, geomorphological, and hydrological development of the 
Atchafalaya Delta. This includes scientific studies that are 
periodically carried out in the offshore region and the bays of the 
area. As the Atchafalaya Delta progrades from the Atchafalaya Bay into 
the Gulf of Mexico, it is likely that scientific interest in the area 
will continue. Placement of dredged material into the ODMDS-West is not 
expected to interfere with any such studies.
    9. Existing water quality and ecology of the site as determined by 
available data or by trend assessment or baseline surveys.
    The water quality and ecology of the proposed ODMDS-West generally 
reflect that of the nearshore region off the Louisiana coast affected 
by discharges from the Atchafalaya River. The variations in water 
quality depend on the amount and mixing of freshwater runoff that is 
highly variable (Phillips and James 1988). Data collected during the 
IEC (1983) surveys and the EPA-ERLN (Dettmann and Tracey 1990) survey 
are generally comparable to historic data for the area as summarized in 
Phillips and James (1988). Neither the IEC (1983) nor the EPA-ERLN 
(Dettmann and Tracey 1990) water column data were taken during 
maintenance-dredged material placement operations; therefore, these 
data reflect ambient conditions. Similarly, water quality and sediment 
contaminant data from the 2008, 2002 and 1996 contaminant assessments 
all indicated no water quality impacts related to the placement of 
dredged material. Additional detail regarding these data, as well as 
additional discussion of water quality can be found in sections 4.1.4 
and 4.1.5.
    Macrofaunal assemblages near the ARBC ODMDSs have been examined 
during benthic investigations of several proposed salt dome brine 
diffuser sites (Parker et al., 1980; Weissberg et al., 1980a, 1980b). 
These studies characterized nearshore assemblages typical of estuarine 
areas, with communities dominated by polychaete worms, small molluscs, 
and macrocrustaceans. Most species displayed seasonal population 
fluctuations, with recruitment during winter and spring. Stations 
sampled by IEC (1983) in the vicinity of the ODMDS-East were further 
inshore and shallower than the proposed brine diffuser sites; however, 
the same general macrofaunal assemblage was found. During both surveys, 
polychaetes dominated the macrofauna.
    Central Louisiana Gulf coastal waters are inhabited by numerous 
species of finfish and shellfish that can be characterized as estuary-
related or demersal shelf inhabitants. Nektonic species and fast 
swimmers that may occur within the area of the ODMDS are attracted to 
oil rigs, which provide reef-like environments in the Gulf. Most, but 
not all, of the larger predators occur seasonally on the northern Gulf 
shelf, appearing in spring and leaving in the fall (Darnell et al. 
1983). The density distribution of total fish and Penaeid shrimp catch 
in the northwestern Gulf has historically been highest off Louisiana 
(NMFS 2012). This may be directly attributable to the extensive 
estuarine nursery areas of Louisiana (Darnell et al. 1983; Darnell and 
Kleypas 1987). Recreational fishing, including fishing, crabbing, and 
shrimping, is popular in the vicinity of the ODMDSs.
    10. Potentiality for the development or recruitment of nuisance 
species in the disposal site.
    Past placement of maintenance-dredged material at the existing 
ODMDS-East and ODMDS-West has not resulted in the development or 
recruitment of nuisance species. Therefore, placement of maintenance-
dredged material at the proposed ODMDS-West is not expected to result 
in development or recruitment of nuisance species.
    11. Existence at or in close proximity to the site of any 
significant natural or

[[Page 29694]]

cultural features of historical importance.
    The USACE Submerged Cultural Resource Database contains historical 
accounts of 52 shipwrecks in the Atchafalaya River and 7 shipwrecks in 
Atchafalaya Bay. These records indicate historical use of the 
Atchafalaya Basin. In 1996, a remote sensing survey was conducted in 
the ODMDS-East. This study found that while several anomaly clusters 
existed, which may represent shipwrecks, the geomorphologic and 
bathymetric data indicates that between 17 and 21 feet of sedimentation 
had occurred in the area between 1839 and 1996. A vessel wrecked more 
than 157 years ago may have at least 17 feet of sediment covering it. 
As a result of this survey, it was concluded that the placement of 
maintenance-dredged materials in the proposed ODMDS-West would not add 
appreciably to the impact already induced by progradation of the 
Atchafalaya Delta during the last century. There is no other 
information suggesting the presence of significant natural or cultural 
resources of historical importance in the vicinity of the proposed 
ODMDS-West. The results of the 1996 remote sensing study can be applied 
to the present study given its proximity to the previously designated 
ODMDS-East.

F. Regulatory Requirements

1. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    Pursuant to section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA) federal agencies are generally required to prepare 
an environmental impact statement (EIS) on major federal actions 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Due to 
the doctrine of functional equivalency, EPA designations of ODMDS under 
MPRSA are not subject to NEPA's requirements. EPA believes the NEPA 
process enhances public participation on such designations, however, 
and the potential effects of these proposed designations are fully 
analyzed in a draft EIS on the Designation of the Atchafalaya River Bar 
Channel Ocean Dredged Materal Disposal Site Pursuant to Section 102(c) 
of the Marine Protection, research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, St. 
Mary Parish, Louisiana. The EPA is the lead agency on the draft EIS and 
Corps of Engineers a cooperating agency.
    A Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal 
Register on July 21, 2011 requesting comments or names for the project 
mailing list to be submitted by August 22, 2011. A Scoping Input 
Request Letter requesting comments regarding the scope of the study was 
sent to Federal, state and local agencies; and interested groups and 
individuals on September 15, 2011; comments were received through 
October 31, 2011. Scoping comments were received from 11 entities and 
will be considered during the study process and in preparation of the 
draft EIS. A Scoping Report was prepared and is appended to the draft 
EIS. EPA has relied on information from the draft EIS and Scoping 
Report in its consideration and application of ocean dumping criteria 
to the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West it proposes to designate.

2. Endangered Species Act Consultation

    During development of the site designation draft EIS, EPA and the 
USACE consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 
pursuant to the provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 
regarding the potential for designation and use of the ocean disposal 
sites to adversely affect any threatened or endangered species or their 
critical habitat. By letter dated January 26, 2012, the USFWS concurred 
with the determination of EPA and the USACE that the proposed action is 
not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee, pallid 
sturgeon, or the piping plover or its critical habitat. This 
consultation process is fully documented in the site designation draft 
EIS.

3. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 
1996 (MSFCMA) defines Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as ``those waters 
and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding or 
growth to maturity.'' The estuarine and marine waters in St. Mary 
Parish, as well as the northern Gulf of Mexico, are designated as EFH. 
In particular, EFH identified by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management 
Plan (FMP) in St. Mary Parish and adjoining waters--including 
Atchafalaya Bay--include estuarine water column and estuarine water 
bottoms, including mud, rock, sand, intertidal vegetation, and shell 
substrates. No ``Habitat Areas of Particular Concern'' have been 
identified in the project vicinity. By letter dated October 19, 2011, 
the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) confirmed this subtital 
habitat is categorized as essential fish habitat (EFH) under provisions 
of the Magnuson-Stevens fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act). NMFS concurs with the initial evaluation 
provided in the September 15, 2011 information package that material 
removed from the bar channel is not suitable for wetland development 
and its disposal at the proposed location is not expected to have 
significant impacts to EFH and related marine fishery resources. 
Coordination with NMFS will be fulfilled through their review and 
comment on the draft EIS.

4. Coastal Zone Management Act

    Pursuant to section 307(c)(1) of the Coastal Zone Management Act, 
federal activities that affect a state's coastal zone must be 
consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable 
policies of the state's approved coastal zone management program. To 
implement that requirement, federal agencies prepare coastal 
consistency determinations and submit them to the appropriate state 
agencies, which may concur in or object to a consistency determination. 
In connection with its preparation of the draft EIS on the Designation 
of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel Ocean Dredged Material Disposal 
Site Pursuant to Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and 
Sanctuaries Act of 1792, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, the EPA prepared a 
coastal consistency determination the proposed Atchafalaya ODMDS-West 
designation, which it submitted to the Louisiana Department of Natural 
Resources (LDNR). By letter of April 30, 2012 LDNR agreed that the 
proposed designation of the Atchafalaya ODMDS-West was not inconsistent 
with the approved Louisiana Coastal Resources Program (LCRP). More 
detailed plans and descriptions of the proposed navigation projects may 
be needed for LDNR and the Corps to resolve potential issues on the 
practicability of beneficial use of dredged materials in Louisiana's 
coastal zone. Such issues are independent of EPA's proposed ODMDS 
designations, however, which only make an offshore disposal option 
available when the Corps deems beneficial use that might otherwise be 
required by a state CZM program impracticable. EPA supports beneficial 
use of dredged material, but ODMDS designations do not in any way 
require that the Corps forego beneficial use in favor of ocean 
disposal.

5. Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990

    The disposal of dredged materials related to maintenance and 
construction is an exception to Federal expenditure restrictions 
related to Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982; therefore, project 
activities related to disposal are exempt

[[Page 29695]]

from the prohibitions set forth in this act.

H. Administrative Review

    This rule proposes the designation of an ocean dredged material 
disposal site pursuant to Section 102 of the MPRSA. This proposed 
action complies with applicable executive orders and statutory 
provisions as follows:

1. Executive Order 12866

    Under Executive order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) EPA must 
determine whether the regulatory action is `significant'', and 
therefore subject to office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and 
other requirements of the Executive Order. The Order defines 
``significant regulatory action'' as one that is likely to lead to a 
rule that may:
    (a) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, 
or adversely affect in a material way, the economy, a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local or Tribal governments or communities;
    (b) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (c) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, 
user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of 
recipients thereof: or
    (d) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
the Executive Order.
    This Proposed Rule should have minimal impact on State, local or 
Tribal governments or communities. Consequently, EPA has determined 
that this Proposed Rule is not a ``significant regulatory action'' 
under the terms of Executive Order 12866.

2. 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 OMB. EPA anticipates that 
few, if any, non-federal entities will use the site as none have in the 
past.

3. Regulatory Flexibility Act, as Amended by the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) provides that whenever an 
agency promulgates a final rule under 5 U.S.C. 553, the agency must 
prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis (RFA) unless the head of the 
agency certifies that the final rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities (5 U.S.C. 604 
and 605). The site designation and management actions would only have 
the effect of setting maximum annual disposal volume and providing a 
continuing disposal option for dredged material. Consequently, EPA's 
action will not impose any additional economic burden on small 
entities. For this reason, the Regional Administrator certifies, 
pursuant to section 605(b) of the RFA, that the Proposed Rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities

4. Unfunded Mandates

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) of 1995 (Pub. 
L. 104-4) establishes requirements for Federal agencies to assess the 
effects of their regulatory actions on State, local, and Tribal 
governments and the private sector. Under section 202 of the UMRA, EPA 
generally must prepare a written statement, including a cost-benefit 
analysis for proposed and final rules with ``Federal mandates'' that 
may result in expenditures to State, local and Tribal governments, in 
the aggregate, or to the private sector, of $10 million or more in any 
year.
    This Proposed Rule contains no Federal mandates (under the 
regulatory provisions of Title II of the UMRA) for State, local or 
Tribal governments or the private sector. The Proposed rule would only 
provide a continuing disposal option for dredged material. 
Consequently, it imposes no new enforceable duty on any State, local or 
Tribal governments or the private sector. EPA anticipates that few, if 
any, non-federal entities will use the site as none have in the past.

5. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    Executive Order 13132, entitled ``Federalism'' (64 FR 43255, August 
10, 1999), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure 
``meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the 
development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.'' 
``Policies that have federalism implications'' is defined in the 
Executive Order to include regulations that have ``substantial direct 
effects on the States, on the relationship between the national 
government and the States, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government.''
    This Proposed Rule does not have federalism implications. It will 
not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship 
between the national government and the States, or on the distribution 
of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, 
as specified in Executive Order 13132. The Proposed Rule would only 
have the effect of providing a continuing disposal option for dredged 
material. Thus, Executive Order 13132 does not apply to this Proposed 
Rule.

6. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian 
Tribal Governments

    Executive Order 13175, entitled ``Consultation and Coordination 
with Indian Tribal Governments'' (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), 
requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure ``meaningful 
and timely input by Tribal officials in the development of regulatory 
policies that have Tribal implications.'' This Proposed Rule does not 
have Tribal implications, as specified in Executive Order 13175. The 
Proposed Rule would only have the effect of providing a continuing 
disposal option for dredged material. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does 
not apply to this Proposed Rule.

7. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental 
Health and Safety Risks

    This Executive Order (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997) applies to any 
rule that: (1) Is determined to be ``economically significant'' as 
defined under Executive Order 12866, and (2) concerns an environmental 
health or safety risk that EPA has reason to believe may have a 
disproportionate effect on children. If the regulatory action meets 
both criteria, EPA must evaluate the environmental health or safety 
effects of the planned rule on children, and explain why the planned 
regulation is preferable to other potentially effective and reasonably 
feasible alternatives considered by EPA. This Proposed Rule is not 
subject to the Executive Order because it is not economically 
significant as defined in Executive Order 12866, and because EPA does 
not have reason to believe the environmental health or safety risks 
addressed by this action present a disproportionate risk to children.

8. Executive Order 13211: Actions That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use Compliance With Administrative Procedure 
Act

    This Proposed Rule is not subject to Executive Order 13211, 
``Actions Concerning Regulations That

[[Page 29696]]

Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use'' (66 FR 28355 
(May 22, 2001)) because it is not a significant regulatory action under 
Executive Order 12866. The Proposed Rule would only have the effect of 
providing a continuing disposal option for dredged material. Thus, EPA 
concluded that this Proposed Rule is not likely to have any adverse 
energy effects.

9. National Technology Transfer Advancement Act

    Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement 
Act of 1995 (``NTTAA''), Public Law 104-113, 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) 
directs EPA to use voluntary consensus standards in its regulatory 
activities unless to do so would be inconsistent with applicable law or 
otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical 
standards (e.g., material specifications, test methods, sampling 
procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by 
voluntary consensus standards bodies. The NTTAA directs EPA to provide 
Congress, through OMB, explanations when the Agency decides not to use 
available and applicable voluntary consensus standards. This Proposed 
Rule does not involve technical standards. Therefore, EPA is not 
considering the use of any voluntary consensus standards.

10. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental 
Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations

    Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629) establishes Federal executive 
policy on environmental justice. Its main provision directs Federal 
agencies, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, to 
make environmental justice part of their mission by identifying and 
addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human 
health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and 
activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the 
United States. EPA determined that this proposed rule will not have 
disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental 
effects on minority or low-income populations because it does not 
affect the level of protection provided to human health or the 
environment. EPA has assessed the overall protectiveness of designating 
the disposal site against the criteria established pursuant to the 
MPRSA to ensure that any adverse impact to the environment will be 
mitigated to the greatest extent practicable.

List of subjects in 40 CFR part 228

    Environmental protection, Water pollution control.

    Dated: May 7, 2013.
Samuel Coleman, P.E.,
Acting Regional Administrator, Region 6.
    In consideration of the foregoing, EPA is proposing to amend part 
228, chapter I of title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations as 
follows:

PART 228--[CRITERIA FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF DISPOSAL SITES FOR OCEAN 
DUMPING]

0
1. The authority citation for part 228 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  33 U.S.C. 1412 and 1418.

0
2. Section 228.15 is amended by adding paragraph (j)(22) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  228.15  Dumping sites designated on a final basis.

* * * * *
    (j) * * *
    (22) Atchafalaya River and Bayous Chene, Boeuf, and Black, LA 
(ODMDS-West)
    (i) Location (NAD83): 29[deg]22'06'' N, 91[deg]27'38'' W; 
29[deg]20'30'' N, 91[deg]25'13'' W; 29[deg]09'16'' N, 91[deg]35'12'' W; 
29[deg]10'52'' N, 91[deg]37'33'' W; thence to point of beginning.
    (ii) Size: 48 square miles
    (iii) Depth: Ranges from 4 to 23 feet
    (iv) Primary Use: Dredged material.
    (v) Period of Use: Continuing use.
    (vi) Restrictions: Disposal shall be limited to dredged material 
from the Atchafalaya River Bar channel that complies with EPA's Ocean 
Dumping Regulations. Dredged material that does not meet the criteria 
set forth in 40 CFR part 227 shall not be placed at the site. Disposal 
operations shall be conducted in accordance with requirements specified 
in a Site Management and Monitoring Plan developed by EPA and USACE, to 
be reviewed periodically, at least every 10 years.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-12089 Filed 5-20-13; 8:45 am]
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