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LRH-2009-264-OHR

Published May 10, 2013
Expiration date: 6/10/2013

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:  The following application has been submitted for a Department of the Army Permit under the provisions of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.   This notice serves as the Corps of Engineers’ request to the Kentucky Division of Water to act on Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the following application.

 

APPLICANT:           Mr. David Schwake

                               SunCoke Energy

                               1011 Warrenville Road, Suite 600

                                Lisle, Illinois  60532

 

LOCATION:  The proposed project is located along the left descending bank of the Ohio River, a Section 10 navigable waterway, and within wetlands adjacent to the Ohio River, approximately 351.2 river miles downstream of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in South Shore, Greenup County, Kentucky.  The project is located near latitude 38.7395 and longitude -82.9246.  A project location map is attached to this notice as Drawing 1 of 14.

 

DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant proposes to conduct work within navigable waters of the United States (U.S.) and to discharge fill material into waters of the U.S. in association with the construction of an industrial development referred to as the SunCoke Energy South Shore Facility.  The proposed project would consist of the construction and operation of a heat-recovery coke facility within an approximate 250-acre site.  The proposed facility would include 120 heat-recovery coke ovens, a coal handling and processing area, coke handling area, material storage piles, pollution control equipment, condensers, a barge unloading facility, rail spurs, administration buildings, roadways, and a parking area.  The primary purpose of the project is to produce coke that would be used in the steel industry.  At full capacity, the facility would carbonize 1,226,400 tons of coal per year and produce up to 831,000 tons of coke per year. 

 

A byproduct of the coke-production process is heat.  The applicant proposes to install heat recovery steam generators to recover waste heat from the ovens to produce steam and electricity.  A nominal 40 to 75 megawatts of electricity would be produced annually from the waste heat.

Proposed work within the Ohio River includes the installation of a barge unloading facility, the placement of bank stabilization, the installation of a cooling water intake structure, the installation of a non-process water discharge system, and initial and annual maintenance dredging.  The proposal would also include the installation of a new aerial transmission line crossing over the Ohio River.  Fill material would be discharged into 6.42 acres of wetlands adjacent to the Ohio River in order to construct the proposed facility.  The following sections describe the proposed work.  Plans of the proposal are attached to this notice.

 

Barge Unloading Facility:  The applicant proposes to conduct work within the Ohio River associated with the construction of a barge unloading facility, which would be utilized for coal delivery.  The proposed barge unloading facility would include the installation of two mooring towers with a floating barge located between them.  Two additional mooring towers and six dolphin moorings would be installed to accommodate barge fleeting for up to twelve  standard barges or six jumbo barges.  Three of the proposed dolphin moorings would be located upstream of the barge unloading dock and three would be located downstream for the coal delivery and staging of empty barges.  Standard barges would be moored a maximum of four wide (riverward) by three long at the facility.  Jumbo barges would be moored a maximum of three wide by two long.  This component of the proposed development is depicted on the attached Drawing 3 of 14 and Drawing 12 of 14.  The maximum riverward extension of the barge unloading facility would be 317-feet from the normal pool shoreline.

 

The proposed barge unloading dock would consist of a hydraulic excavator, barge haul system, electric building, coal reclaim hopper, and conveyor system.  To construct the proposed coal unloading facility, the applicant proposes to discharge 1,800 cubic yards of material below the ordinary high water mark of the Ohio River for the four tower moorings. 

 

Bank Stabilization:  The applicant proposes to discharge 1,400 cubic yards of material below the ordinary high water mark of the Ohio River for the installation of riprap bank stabilization.  The proposed bank stabilization would be placed within two areas of the Ohio River, an 80-foot long area and a 30-foot long area, for a total of 110 linear feet of bank stabilization.  The proposed areas of bank stabilization are shown on the attached Drawing 12 of 14.

 

Cooling Water Intake Structure:  The applicant proposes to install a cooling water intake structure (CWIS) to withdraw water from the Ohio River.  The CWIS would consist of an intake pipe and wedge wire screen, which would be installed along the river bottom.  Pumps for the intake structure would be housed within a proposed concrete pump house located on the bank of the river in the eastern portion of the site.  This component of the proposed development is depicted on the attached Drawing 7 of 14 and Drawing 13 of 14.  The maximum riverward extension of the CWIS would be 317-feet from the normal pool shoreline, as shown on Drawing 12 of 14.

 

Non-Process Water Discharge System:  The applicant proposes to install a water discharge pipe and diffuser within the Ohio River for the discharge of non-process water.  The applicant has indicated this discharge would be permitted under a Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (KPDES) permit.  This component of the proposed development is depicted on the attached Drawing 7 of 14 and Drawing 14 of 14.  The maximum riverward extension of the water discharge pipe would be 317-feet from the normal pool shoreline, as shown on Drawing 12 of 14.

 

Aerial Transmission Line:  The applicant proposes to install a new 138 kV electric transmission line over the Ohio River to connect the proposed project to the existing Millbrook Park Substation located in Scioto County, Ohio, approximately 1.2 miles north of the proposed project area.  The proposed transmission line is shown on the attached Drawing 2 of 14 and Drawing 11 of 14.  The applicant has indicated the lowest sag of the proposed transmission line would be 117.5-feet above the normal river pool.

 

Dredging:  Prior to construction of the barge unloading facility, the applicant proposes to dredge approximately 70,000 cubic yards of material from the Ohio River within an approximate 1,400-foot by 150-foot area.  To maintain adequate draft in the barge unloading area, the applicant also proposes to perform maintenance dredging within the river.  If permitted, the proposed dredging operation would be approved for a period of 10 years.  The dredging activity would be on an as-needed basis, but not more often than once annually.  The applicant anticipated a maximum of 35,000 cubic yards would be removed during any single dredging event.  Material would be dredged from the river during the initial and proposed maintenance dredging using either a mechanical or hydraulic dredging process.  Dredge material would be placed within upland disposal sites within the project boundary in a manner to prevent its reentry into the river or wetlands.

 

Proposed Wetland Fill:  The applicant also proposes to discharge fill material into 6.4 acres of fifteen wetlands adjacent to the Ohio River associated with the site grading for the proposed development.  The proposed wetland fill is described in Table 1 below. 

 

Table 1 - Proposed Wetland Fill

Wetland ID

Classification1

Size (Acres)

Fill Area (Acres)

Wetland 1a

PFO/PSS

0.86

0.86

Wetland 2

PFO/PSS

0.20

0.20

Wetland 3

PEM/PSS

0.76

0.76

Wetland 4a

PFO/PSS

0.97

0.97

Wetland 5a

PFO/PSS

0.70

0.70

Wetland 5b

PEM

0.01

Avoided

Wetland 6

PFO/PSS

0.05

0.05

Wetland 7

PFO/PSS

0.11

0.11

Wetland 8

PEM/PFO

0.49

0.49

Wetland 9

PFO

1.29

1.29

Wetland 10

PEM/PFO

0.19

0.19

Wetland 11

PFO

0.53

0.53

Table 1 (Continued)

 

Wetland 12

PFO

0.20

0.20

Wetland 13

PEM

4.10

Avoided

Vernal Pool

N/A

0.07

0.07

Total Wetland Fill

6.42 acres

1) PFO – Forested, PSS – Scrub/Shrub, PEM - Emergent

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS:   As a result of the proposal, fill material would be discharged into 6.42 acres of fifteen jurisdictional wetlands.  The project does not require access or proximity to or siting within the wetlands to fulfill its basic purpose and is considered a non-water dependent activity.  The Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines state that for non-water dependent activities, practicable alternatives that do not involve wetlands are presumed to be available, unless clearly demonstrated otherwise.  The applicant is required to provide an alternatives analysis that must overcome the presumption prior to receiving authorization for the discharge of fill material into special aquatic sites.  The applicant has submitted the required alternatives analysis and it is currently under review.  The applicant’s alternatives analysis includes an assessment of a “no-action” alternative and the assessment of four off-site locations for the proposed project.  A complete copy of the alternative analysis can be reviewed, by appointment, at the location indicated at the beginning of this notice.  No permit will be issued until our review of the alternative 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 U.S., consideration must be given to avoiding these areas.  If waters of the U.S. cannot be avoided, the discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. must be minimized.  A total of 10.53 acres of fifteen wetlands subject to jurisdiction under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act exist within the project area.  According to the applicant, due to the facility size and operational needs of the proposed project, the discharge of fill material into wetlands is unavoidable.  The applicant has indicated portions of the project, specifically an access road to the barge unloading area, were redesigned to avoid Wetland 13.  The applicant has indicated the discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. has been avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable and has indicated that the proposed discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S. are unavoidable. 

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN:  As mitigation for the proposed discharge of fill material into 6.42 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, the applicant proposes to purchase wetland mitigation credit at a 2:1 ratio from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program, an approved in-lieu-fee program.

 

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION:  A Section 401 Water Quality Certification is required for this project.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain certification from the Kentucky Division of Water. 

HISTORIC & 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 Register which would be directly affected by the proposed work.  The applicant has indicated Phase I and Phase II archaeological surveys have been conducted within the proposed project area.  Based on the findings of the surveys, the applicant has indicated the proposed project area contains cultural resources that are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), specifically sites referred to as 15Gp183 and 15Gp219.  The applicant has also stated the proposed project would have an adverse effect on these sites.  As mitigation for the proposed adverse effect to historic properties, the applicant proposes a combination of geophysical survey, hand excavation, and controlled mechanical excavation to recover information from the historic properties that would be adversely affected by the proposed project. 

 

The purpose of this Public Notice is also to solicit comments regarding the proposed adverse affects to potential historic properties within the proposed project area and to identify potential consulting parties that wish to participate in addressing the proposed adverse effects to historic properties.  A copy of this public notice, the existing archaeological reports, and the Corps’ determination regarding effects to historic properties will be furnished to the State Historic Preservation Office for their review and response.  Comments concerning archaeological sensitivity of the project area should be based on collected data.

 

THREATENED & ENDANGERED SPECIES:  The project is located within the known or historic range of the following threatened or endangered species: gray bat, Indiana bat, fanshell mussel, pink mucket mussel, ring pink mussel, rough pigtoe mussel, sheepnose mussel, purple cat’s paw pearly mussel, orangefoot pimpleback mussel, and clubshell mussel. 

 

The applicant has indicated approximately 45-acres of forested habitat are located within the proposed project area.  The majority of the forested habitat is a long, narrow strip bordered by agricultural fields.  The remaining habitat is a riparian corridor located along the Ohio River and a forested area paralleling the north side of the existing railroad tracks within the project site.  The applicant proposes to remove any suitable habitat for the Indiana bat during the winter, when bats are in hibernation.  If suitable habitat cannot be removed during this timeframe, the applicant proposes to conduct bat surveys within the project area.  Based on this strategy, the Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Indiana bat. 

 

According to the applicant, no suitable habitat for the gray bat is present within the proposed project area.  Provided the applicant utilizes appropriate best management practices during construction of the facility, the Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the gray bat.

 

The applicant has conducted a mussel survey within the Ohio River between approximate mile point 351.1 and 351.6.  No threatened or endangered mussel species were found during the survey.  Given the results of the survey, provided the applicant utilizes appropriate best management practices while conducting work within the Ohio River, the Corps has determined the proposed project may affect may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect any listed mussel species.

 

The Corps has determined the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species, or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat of such species which has been determined to be critical.  This Public Notice serves as a request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for any additional information they may have on whether any listed or proposed to be listed endangered or threatened species may be present in the area which would be affected by the activity, pursuant to Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1972 (as amended).  The Corps is also requesting the USFWS concur with the Corps’ endangered species determinations described above.

PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND COMMENT:  Any person who has an interest that may be adversely affected by the issuance of a permit may request a public hearing.  Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing.  The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer on or before the expiration date of this notice and must clearly set forth the interest which may be adversely affected and the manner in which the interest may be adversely affected by the activity.  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 the guidelines published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b)(1) of the CWA.  Interested parties are invited to state any objections they may have to the proposed work.  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest.  That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources.  The benefit 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.  Written statements on these factors 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.

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 setting forth sufficient detail to furnish a clear understanding of the reasons

for support or opposition.  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.

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.  If no comments are received by that date, it will be considered that there are no objections. Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted to:

 

                        United States Army Corps of Engineers

                        Attn: CELRH-RD-E   Public Notice: LRH-2009-00264-OHR

                        502 8th Street

                        Huntington, West Virginia 25701-2070

 

Please note names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this public notice become part of our administrative record and, as such, are available to the public under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.  Thank you for your interest in our nation’s water resources.  If you have any questions concerning this public notice, please contact Ms. Susan Porter of the Energy Resource Branch at (304) 399-5325.