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LRH 2022-55-OHR

Published May 11, 2022
Expiration date: 6/11/2022

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:  The following application has been submitted for Department of the Army (DA) authorization under the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. 

APPLICANT:  Nucor Steel West Virginia

           1915 Rexford Road

           Charlotte, North Carolina 28211


LOCATION:  The proposed project, referred to as the Nucor Steel West Virginia (Nucor) Apple Grove Site, would be located within an approximate 691-acre (ac) site located along 7,500 linear feet (lf) of the left descending bank (LDB) of the Ohio River, between river mile points 281 and 282, near Apple Grove, in Mason County, West Virginia (latitude 38.647729°, longitude -82.175875°).  The proposed project is situated north of the confluence of Sixteenmile Creek and the Ohio River. See attached Sheet 1.

DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED WORKThe applicant has requested DA authorization for work within the Ohio River, a navigable water of the United States (U.S.), and for proposed discharges of dredged and/or fill material into waters of the United States to facilitate construction of a new carbon steel mill.  Implementation of the proposal would result in permanent discharges of dredged and/or fill material into a total of 10.1 ac of thirty-three (33) wetlands, 1,054 lf of four (4) unnamed ephemeral and intermittent streams, and 9.017 ac of disturbance along 5,000 lf of the LDB of the Ohio River.  Proposed discharges of fill material are described in the attached Tables 1-3.  Additional details on the features of the proposed development are included below.  Plans of the proposal are attached to this notice. 

Steel Mill Development: The applicant has indicated the mill development would include: two electric arc furnaces, a hot strip mill, a cold mill, indoor and outdoor storage facilities, inbound and outbound transportation facilities, air pollution control baghouses, electric substations, a slag processing facility, access roads, material storage areas, and stormwater and wastewater treatment facilities.  The total construction would occupy approximately 664-acres of the overall 691-acre site.  The applicant has indicated the discharge of fill material into 1,054 linear feet of stream is necessary for construction of an access road, riprap stabilization, building foundations, and stormwater features.  The applicant has indicated the discharge of fill material into 10.1 ac of thirty-three wetlands is necessary for cuts and/or fill associated with construction of the development. See Sheets 2, 5, 7 and 8.

River Development: For the delivery of raw material and transportation of finished products, the applicant proposes to construct new barge loading, unloading, and fleeting areas within the Ohio River.  See Sheet 6.  Proposed work within the Ohio River includes:

  • installation of new river mooring cells for barge fleeting with loading areas;
  • construction of a direct reduced iron (DRI) unloading dock to receive iron ore;
  • construction of outbound/inbound loading docks with quay bulkhead walls;
  • installation of a new ramp;
  • installation of three (3) roof foundation cells at the inbound dock;
  • installation of five (5) stormwater outfalls and one (1) wastewater outfall; and
  • installation of fish habitat features.  

Work along the Ohio River would include the discharge of 2 ac of permanent fill material into the river associated with dock and mooring cell construction.  

Fleeting areas: The proposal includes the establishment of five (5) new barge fleeting areas.  Each fleeting area would include three (3) new mooring cells.  The proposed cells would be sheet pile cells, backfilled with suitable clean fill material, each with a maximum 40-foot diameter.  The maximum riverward extension of each cell would no more than 100 feet from the normal pool elevation.  Each of the five fleeting areas would include mooring of a maximum of eight (8) barges in a 4-long by 2-wide arrangement.  The maximum riverward extent of the fleeting areas, with moored barges, would be no more than 245 feet from the normal pool elevation.

Inbound and Outbound Docks, and DRI Unloading:  The proposed inbound loading dock would consist of a sheet pile bulkhead wall with an approximate riverward extent of 90 feet from the normal pool shoreline.  The proposed outbound barge-loading dock would consist of a sheet pile wall with an approximate riverward projection of 80 feet. The outbound dock would include an overhanging roof with a maximum riverward extent of approximately 180 feet, secured with nine (9) 4-foot diameter pilings.  Each of the inbound and outbound docks would include two (2) dolphin mooring cells.  The upstream and downstream sides of each dock would be protected by approximately 50 lf of riprap to prevent erosion.  Two (2) new mooring cells southern end of the site would be installed to facilitate DRI material unloading.  See Sheets 9-11.

Ramp Construction and Temporary Unloading: The proposed ramp would be a shallow slope ramp excavated within the bank of the Ohio River. The length of the ramp within the Ohio River is approximately 55 lf.  One-time dredging of this area is proposed to allow for the necessary keel clearance for loaded barges and tugboat maneuvering during the temporary material unloading for construction.  For this one-time initial dredging, approximately 2,370 cubic yards (cy) of material would be removed from approximately 150 ft (riverward) of the river, to a maximum depth of 20 ft.  To facilitate construction of the facility, temporary unloading activities would occur at the ramp location. The temporary unloading would include temporarily anchoring a typical crane barge with spuds in the Ohio River along the bank with a maximum riverward extent of 150 feet from normal pool. Materials would be unloaded by crane, ramps, and/or conveyors one barge (195 feet long by 35 feet wide) at a time.  See Sheet 12.

Outfalls: Five (5) new stormwater outfalls and one (1) new wastewater outfall would be installed along the Ohio River. The stormwater outfalls would be installed at the normal pool limits and stabilized with riprap aprons.  The wastewater outfall would be a diffuser pipe installed under the riverbed or elevated and secured to moorings. The proposed wastewater diffuser would have riverward extent of approximately 170 feet from the normal pool shoreline.  See Sheets 6, 13, and 14.

Intake: One (1) new water intake structure would be installed within and/or below the river.  The applicant indicated they are considering two (2) proposed design options for the water intake. The first option would include the installation of a water intake consisting of a caisson water well pump vault with screened intakes and a pedestrian bridge from the vault to the shore (totaling a temporary footprint of 0.06 ac and a permanent footprint of 0.062 ac). The second option includes a Ranney groundwater collector well system located on the riverbank. This system would include a 16-foot diameter caisson vault at or near the riverbank (outside of the ordinary high water mark limits) with subterranean horizontal well 12-inch diameter intake pipes extending into the river aquifer zone, generally less than 150 feet.  See Sheets 15 and 16.

Note: The proposal may include widening of approximately 6,800 lf of West Virginia Route 2.  However, the applicant has stated this roadway work would not include the discharge of dredged and/or fill materials into waters of the United States subject to Corps’ regulation under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. 

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS:  A total of 1,054 lf of intermittent/ephemeral streams and 10.1 acres of palustrine wetlands would be permanently filled as a result of the proposed project.  The project would also include an additional 9.017 acres of temporary disturbance to the Ohio River, as described above.  The project does not require access, proximity to, or siting within special aquatic sites to fulfill its basic purpose and is considered a non-water dependent activity.  The Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines state for non-water dependent activities, practicable alternatives that do not involve special aquatic sites are presumed to be available, unless clearly demonstrated otherwise.  The applicant has submitted an alternatives analysis for review. 

The applicant’s alternatives analysis includes an assessment of a “no action” alternative, a preferred alternative with three (3) on-site design configurations, and three (3) off-site alternatives to the Apple Grove location (totaling four [4] locations evaluated).  Under the “no action” alternative, no discharge of dredged and/or fill material into waters of the United States would occur.  The applicant has indicated this alternative would not meet the overall project purpose. 

Sites locations were evaluated based on property size (500 buildable acres; 120 adjacent acres for parking/staging), topography/grading requirements, proximity to major railroad and highway transportation infrastructure, proximity to navigable lock-and-dam controlled waters for barge transport and water supply/treatment options, and estimated aquatic resources impacts. The applicant also considered potential effects to known historic resources and threatened and endangered species while evaluating site selection and on-site configurations. The initial screening process involved thirteen (13) potential locations, nine (9) of which were eliminated given they failed to meet the criteria listed above. The applicant stated the remaining four (4) locations were evaluated further through detailed engineering and environmental impacts evaluations.

Of the three (3) on-site alternatives, the applicant stated the proposed action and preferred alternative would meet the purpose and need of the applicant’s proposal while reducing potential impacts to waters of the United States. According to the information provided, the Apple Grove Site, the preferred alternative, meets the size and topography requirements for a steel mill and provides the applicant with important transportation and logistical advantages to serve customers in the Midwest and Northeast, while also avoiding impacts to waters of the United States. Based on the alternatives analysis, the applicant has indicated the other alternatives considered would result in either a greater loss of aquatic resources, reduced access to navigation access, a reduced buildable area, and/or are not feasible alternatives considering logistics and topography. 

The applicant’s alternatives analysis is currently under review.  A complete copy of the applicant’s submittal can be reviewed, by appointment, at the above address or a copy may be requested under the Freedom of Information Act.  No permit will be issued unless the alternatives analysis clearly demonstrates that practicable upland alternatives are not available to achieve the overall project purpose. 

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION:  In evaluating a project area containing waters of the United States, consideration must be given to avoiding impacts on this site.  If waters of the United States cannot be avoided, then the impacts must be minimized.  Approximately 1,115 lf of two intermittent streams, 658 lf of four ephemeral streams, 80 lf of one ephemeral feature, 9.313 acres of thirty palustrine emergent wetlands (PEM), 4.569 acres of six palustrine scrub-shrub wetlands (PSS), 5.875 acres of fourteen palustrine forested wetlands (PFO), and 0.32 acre of three palustrine unconsolidated bottom (PUB) wetlands are located within the 691-acre site. In total, 20.077 acres of wetland, 1,853 lf of intermittent/ephemeral stream, and approximately 7,447 lf of the Ohio River are present within the site.  See Sheets 3 and 4.

Avoidance and minimization efforts were incorporated into the proposal.  According to the information provided, a total of 799 lf of intermittent/ephemeral features (43%) would be avoided completely and 9.989 acre of wetlands (~49.8%) were avoided completely.  Additionally, work would occur along approximately 5,000 lf of the Ohio River, avoiding 2,447 lf of the Ohio River on-site. The applicant states best management practices would be implemented to minimize downstream sedimentation and turbidity. The applicant would be required to obtain stormwater permits from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and to implement stormwater protection plans as needed for site construction. The applicant would also acquire and comply with all terms and conditions of the Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) and the NPDES permit. 

A wastewater treatment system would be designed and installed to comply with the project- and site- specific requirements of the WVDEP NPDES industrial wastewater permit. A single wastewater treatment outfall would be installed within the project limits.  The approximate volume of the discharge is anticipated to be 3 million gallons per day. The extent of the mixing zone extends 2,000 feet downstream of the proposed wastewater discharge and within 200 feet of the eastern bank, which is within the footprint of the proposed inbound dock and mooring cells. The wastewater treatment system plan is currently under review by the WVDEP.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN:   To compensate for the loss of aquatic features associated with the temporary and permanent discharges of dredged and/or fill material into streams and wetlands, the applicant proposes to purchase credits from an approved mitigation bank and from the West Virginia In-Lieu Fee Program.  The applicant calculated mitigation requirements using the West Virginia Stream and Wetland Valuation Metric Version 2.1 (WV SWVM).  To satisfy stream mitigation requirements, the applicant proposes to purchase 569.59 secondary service area mitigation bank credits from an approved mitigation bank.  To satisfy wetland mitigation requirements, the applicant proposes to purchase 26.589 credits from the West Virginia In-Lieu Fee Program (10.088 acre loss; 26.589 debits calculated with ratio of PEM/PUB 2:1 and PFO/PSS 3:1, respectively).

As part of our evaluation, the Corps will review the applicant’s WV SWVM calculation sheets for accuracy.  The conceptual CMP is currently under review and is subject to change based on comments received and the Corps’ independent evaluation.  After review of all the submitted information, the Corps will make a determination of appropriate compensatory mitigation, in the event a decision is made to issue a permit.

Additionally, in order to offset potential adverse effects to fish and wildlife values, the applicant has proposed fish habitat enhancement at a ratio of 1:1 for the impacted riverbed (2.124-acre loss of Ohio River riverbed within the normal pool limits), calculated based on the area of enhancement (at 25 feet from the normal pool shoreline) plus an additional 25-foot buffer. The proposed fish habitat mitigation includes the installation of 11 vertical feet of artificial fish habitat on the landward side of each mooring cell (21 cells), totaling 1.042 acre below normal pool. Artificial habitat would include wire baskets and arrays of varied fish tubes along the sheet pile walls.  See Sheet 17.  The applicant’s proposed offsite fish habitat (1.082 acre) would include riverbank restoration and littoral zone habitat enhancement at one or more sites on public lands within the watershed. The stated goal of the offsite fish habitat project is to create low-velocity shelter areas and substrate heterogeneity (boulder spur dikes and anchored fish attractors) to facilitate an increase in potential shallow water spawning habitat. Offsite locations are currently be evaluated by the applicant. See Sheet 18. 

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: The applicant must obtain a Section 401 WQC from the WVDEP, assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated.  The applicant has submitted an individual Section 401 WQC application to the WVDEP for this project.  A DA permit, if otherwise warranted, would not be issued on this project until the Section 401 WQC has been issued or waived and the Section 401(a)(2) process has been completed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).  The Reasonable Period of Time for the certifying authority (WVDEP) to act on the Section 401 WQC is September 7, 2022.  A waiver may be explicit or will be deemed to occur if the WVDEP fails or refuses to act on a request for certification within 365 days after receipt of a valid certification request.

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) has been consulted and it has been determined there are no properties currently listed on the NRHP that would be indirectly or directly affected by the proposed work. Previous cultural resource surveys have been conducted within portions of the site.  Eligibility determinations for the previously identified resources are incomplete.  The applicant has conducted preliminary archaeological investigations and architectural surveys within the overall project boundary.  Additionally, an updated Phase I archaeological survey is currently being conducted for the entire project area.

The Corps will assess the identified/reidentified cultural resources for NRHP eligibility.  Any impacts on such properties will be evaluated and treated in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) and will be considered in making the final decision. The applicant has submitted information to Ohio History Connection State Historic Preservation Office (OSHPO) and the West Virginia Department of the Arts, Culture, and History State Historic Preservation Office (WVSHPO) for recommendations.  A copy of this Public Notice will be sent to the SHPOs for their review.  Comments concerning archaeological sensitivity of the project area should be based upon collected data. No DA permit will be issued until all obligations under Section 106 of the NHPA have been fulfilled.  

ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES: The proposed project is located within the known or historic range of the following endangered (E) or threatened (T) species:

  • Indiana bat (E), Myotis sodalis
  • northern long-eared bat (T), Myotis septentrionalis
  • clubshell mussel (E), Pleurobema clava
  • pink mucket (pearlymussel) (E), Lampsilis abrupta
  • snuffbox mussel (E), Epioblasma triquetra
  • fanshell mussel (E), Cyprogenia stegaria
  • sheepnose mussel (E), Plethobasus cyphyus
  • northern riffleshell mussel (E), Epioblasma torulosa rangiana

Suitable habitat for the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat may be present within the site. According to the Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) database, the project area does not occur within a known use area for the Indiana bat. Additionally, the proposed project is not located near known hibernacula or known maternity roost trees for the northern long-eared bat. The Corps is evaluating the scope of the proposed tree clearing (90 acres) relative to the available habitat in the immediately surrounding area. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, West Virginia Field Office (USFWS WVFO) recommended a summer survey be conducted to determine the presence or absence of the Indiana bats within the project area. The summer bat survey is anticipated to be conducted in May/June 2022. The applicant has also developed an Indiana Bat Conservation Plan (IBCP), should federally listed species be detected.

Suitable habitat for listed mussel species may be present within the site. Given the scope of the project and the current Mussel Survey Protocols for the State of West Virginia, a mussel survey is required to determine presence or absence of mussel species, included the listed species above. The mussel survey is anticipated to be conducted in May/June 2022.

The Corps will initiate coordination with the USFWS upon receipt of the completed bat and mussel survey reports.  The DA permit will not be issued until the requirements of Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1972 (as amended) are fulfilled.

PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS: This application will be reviewed in accordance with 33 CFR 320-332, the Regulatory Program of the Corps, and other pertinent laws, regulations, and executive orders. Our evaluation will also follow guidelines published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act (40 CFR part 230). The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits that reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors that may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; of those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.

SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS: The Corps is soliciting comments from the public, federal, state and local agencies and officials, Indian Tribes and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity.  For accuracy and completeness of the administrative record, all data in support of or in opposition to the proposed work should be submitted in writing (preferably via email if possible) setting forth sufficient detail to furnish a clear understanding of the reasons for support or opposition.  Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in the notice, that a public hearing be held to consider the application.  Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing.  Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal.  To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.  Written statements, either physical or electronic, received in this office on or before the expiration date of this Public Notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final determination.  A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before the close of the comment period listed on page one of this Public Notice.  Comments, information requests, and any public hearing requests should be submitted in accordance with the submission methods listed below.  If no comments are received by the close of the comment period, it will be considered that there are no objections.

Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted electronically to Ms. Lauren Pritt by email to lauren.a.pritt@usace.army.mil.

If you do not have internet access, comments may be submitted thru the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to the following address:

United States Army Corps of Engineers


Public Notice No. LRH-2022-55-OHR

502 Eighth Street

Huntington, West Virginia 25701-2070


Comments should only be provided through the USPS when electronic transmission is not possible.  Precautionary internal mail handling procedures may be instituted to protect our workforce, which may result in longer than normal times to process and receive hard copy submissions.  To be considered in our evaluation, comments submitted through the USPS should have a postmark dated on, or prior to, the close of the comment period listed on page one of this Public Notice.

Please note that names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this Public Notice become part of our administrative record, and, as such, may be available to the public under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Thank you for your interest in our nation's water resources.