US Army Corps of Engineers
Huntington District

Disclaimer

The below listed documents may not be readable via Optical Character Recognition. To receive public notices via email, please send an email to LRH.Permits@usace.army.mil indicating that you would like to be placed on the public notice electronic distribution list. Your email should also include the state(s) in which you would like to receive public notices.

2011-753-OHR

Published Dec. 26, 2013
Expiration date: 1/24/2014

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The following application has been submitted for a Department of the Army Permit under the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  This notice serves as the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) request to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to act on Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the following application.

 

APPLICANT:            MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources, LLC

4600 J. Barry Court

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania  15317

 

LOCATION: The proposed project would be located on Swisher Lane west of Sherwood, Doddridge County, West Virginia.  Specifically, the proposed project area would be situated at north latitude 39° 16’ 41” and west longitude 80° 41’ 12” on the Smithburg 7.5-minute quadrangle (Figure 1 of 9).  The proposed project would result in the discharge of fill material into unnamed tributaries to Buckeye Creek and adjacent wetlands.  Buckeye Creek is a tributary of Middle Island Creek, a traditional navigable water of the United States.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes to expand their existing Sherwood Natural Gas Processing Facility which would result in the discharge of fill material into waters of the United States (U.S.) associated with the clearing and grading the approximately 76-acre (ac) site to prepare the area for the footprint of the facility.  Based on information received from the applicant, the purpose of the proposed project is to increase the capacity of natural gas processing at their existing facility.  The current facility can process 600 million standard cubic feet of raw natural gas, which can no longer meet the incoming demand, according to the applicant.  The expanded facility would have the capacity to process 1 billion standard cubic feet per day as well as provide approximately 40,000 barrels per day of ethane for off-site processing.

The facility would receive natural gas gathered from Marcellus shale gas wells in the surrounding Appalachian Mountains.  This natural gas would first be processed through the on-site cryogenic plants to separate methane from the other components, and the methane would be piped into an existing transmission system.  The remaining components would be processed again at the on-site cryogenic plants to separate ethane from those remaining components.  The ethane would then be piped to other off-site “cracker” plants where it would be converted into ethylene, which could then be processed into other products such as polyethylene.  Lastly, the remaining components would be piped to the applicant’s facility located in Houston, Pennsylvania for further separation.

The applicant received authorization for a portion of the project under a Nationwide Permit on January 30, 2012.  This portion of the project included the discharge of fill material into 0.47 ac of wetlands and 268 linear feet (lf) of intermittent stream to construct road crossings and to grade the site for the existing natural gas processing plant.  Culverts were used within streams to conduct flow under the proposed access road.  Construction included three cryogenic recovery plants.  The applicant provided compensatory mitigation for the authorized discharges of fill material into streams by paying $118,648.32 to the WVDEP West Virginia In-Lieu Fee Program (WV ILF) and compensatory mitigation for the authorized discharges of fill material into wetlands by paying $63,705.60 to the WV ILF.

As the expansion of the natural gas processing facility is dependent on the original facility, the discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S. authorized under the original construction and proposed under the expansion are being reviewed as one single and complete project.

During construction of the facility as authorized under NWP 39, the applicant inadvertently discharged fill material into an additional portion of Wetland 3 (see Table 1 below), resulting in the loss of an additional 0.04 acre of wetland in association with an access road.  The applicant submitted a proposed restoration plan for this wetland.  However, the applicant is proposing to discharge fill material into the same wetland area in association with the expansion.  Therefore this office has determined that since the applicant is requesting authorization under an individual permit for this discharge of fill, it is within the public interest to postpone the restoration plan until this office completes its review of the expansion.  Should the discharges of fill material in association with the expansion be denied, the applicant has indicated they would implement the wetland restoration plan for the additional 0.04 ac of impact to Wetland 3.

The proposed construction activities under the expansion would result in the permanent discharge of fill material into a total of approximately 2,052 linear feet (lf) of jurisdictional stream channel (comprised of 1,470 lf of intermittent stream and 582 lf of ephemeral stream), 6.53 ac of emergent wetlands and 2.84 ac of open water within the Buckeye Creek watershed.  All of the wetlands, the open water and 62 lf of ephemeral stream would be completely filled by the proposed discharges.  A total of 1,990 lf of stream (1,470 lf of intermittent stream and 520 lf of ephemeral stream) would be impacted by discharges associated with the installation of culvert pipes.  The proposed discharges of fill material would be associated with grading of the site to facilitate the construction of four additional cryogenic recovery plants and three de-ethanizers (where the ethane portion of the raw natural gas is separated and sent separately to other processing plants).  To facilitate review of the project, Table 1 provides a list of the proposed discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S. associated with each portion of the project.  Figure 2 of 9 shows the plan view of the proposed project and Figures 3 through 7 of 9 show example cross sections of the proposed project.  Figure 8 of 9 shows a map of the streams and wetlands as referenced in Table 1.

 

Table 1

Sherwood Natural Gas Processing Facility Expansion Impact Summary

Stream or Wetland Name (Original or Expansion)

Acres of Fill Discharge*

Permanent Intermittent Impacts (linear feet)

Permanent Ephemeral Impacts (linear feet)

Wetland 1 (Original and Expansion)

0.003 (Original);

0.17 (Expansion)

 

 

Wetland 2 (Original and Expansion)

0.45 (Original);

0.08 (Expansion)

 

 

Wetland 3 (Original and Expansion)

0.02 (Original);

1.78 (Expansion)**

 

 

Wetland 4 (Expansion)

0.03

 

 

Wetland 5 (Expansion)

0.04

 

 

Wetland 6 (Original and Expansion)

0.01 (Original);

2.07 (Expansion)

 

 

Wetland 7 (Expansion)

0.01

 

 

Wetland 8 (Expansion)

0.04

 

 

Wetland 9 (Expansion)

0.05

 

 

Wetland 12 (Expansion)

2.25

 

 

Wetland 16 (Expansion)

0.02

 

 

Pond 1 (Expansion)

2.84

 

 

Tributary 2 (Original and Expansion)

 

244 (Original);

341 (Expansion)

413 (Expansion)

Tributary 3 (Original)

 

24

 

Tributary 4 (Expansion)

 

 

107

Tributary 5 (Expansion)

 

365

 

Tributary 9 (Expansion)

 

764

 

Tributary 11 (Expansion)

 

 

10

Tributary 12 (Expansion)

 

 

52

TOTAL WETLAND ORIGINAL

0.47

 

 

TOTAL WETLAND EXPANSION

6.55

 

 

GRAND TOTAL WETLAND

7.02

 

 

TOTAL OPEN WATER (ALL EXPANSION)

2.84

 

 

TOTAL STREAM ORIGINAL

 

268

 

TOTAL STREAM EXPANSION

 

1,470

582

GRAND TOTAL STREAM

 

1,738

582

*Acres are rounded to the nearest hundredth in most cases

**This includes the additional 0.04 ac of fill discharge already completed by the applicant without prior authorization

 

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION: The applicant indicated that there is no practicable alternative for the proposed project that completely avoids the discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S.  The applicant considered four off-site alternative locations for the expansion; however, due to their distance from the existing facility, the applicant dismissed these alternatives as impracticable.  The applicant also considered three on-site alternatives (including one which avoided all discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S.).  The applicant reduced the proposed fill discharges from their original design, which would have included 6.78 ac of wetland, 2.84 ac of open water, 2,182 lf of intermittent stream and 763 lf of ephemeral stream.  Other minimization measures are contained in the applicant’s Application for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 Permit, available for review in the Huntington District’s Regulatory Office.

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN: A Compensatory Mitigation Plan (CMP) describing the proposed off-site and in-kind permittee-responsible mitigation has been prepared by the applicant, and includes a combination of wetland establishment and the payment of in-lieu fees to the WVDEP West Virginia In-Lieu Fee Program (WV ILF).  The applicant has employed the use of the West Virginia Stream and Wetland Valuation Metric version 2.0 (WV SWVM) to indicate whether the proposed mitigation would adequately off-set the discharges of fill material associated with the proposed Sherwood Natural Gas Processing Facility Expansion project.  The proposed discharges of fill material into streams would result in a total of 1,483.42 debits.  In order to provide compensation for impacts associated with these discharges of fill material, the applicant would pay $1,186,757.91 to the WV ILF.  The proposed discharges of fill material into open water would result in a total of 2.838 ac of debits.  In order to provide compensation for impacts associated with these discharges of fill material, the applicant would pay $170,280 to the WV ILF.  Finally, in order to compensate for the loss of 6.55 ac of emergent wetlands due to the discharges of fill material, the applicant would establish 5.23 ac of a combination of emergent, scrub-shrub and forested wetlands at the Moose Mitigation Site.  The applicant did not utilize the WV SWVM to determine the proposed compensatory wetland mitigation.  The wetland mitigation area would be located adjacent to Meathouse Fork along Snowbird Road just south of Smithburg, Doddridge County, West Virginia (approximately 2.3 miles west of the proposed project area).  Table 2 summarizes the proposed compensatory mitigation.  A description of each wetland mitigation element is provided below, and a complete copy of the CMP is available for review in the Huntington District Office.

 

Table 2

Sherwood Natural Gas Processing Facility Expansion Compensatory Mitigation Summary

Proposed Mitigation

Area (ac)

WV SWVM Credits

Stream WV ILF Payment

--

1,483.42

Open Water WV ILF Payment

2.838

2.838

Wetland Establishment

5.23

N/A

Wetland Establishment: The applicant would establish a total of 5.23 ac of wetland at the Moose Mitigation Site.  The site currently contains approximately 0.34 ac of emergent wetland which would not be included as compensation credit for the proposed discharges of fill material.  The applicant would excavate the area and utilize elevated berms to create the hydrology necessary to establish wetlands on the site.  The wetlands would be a combination of emergent marsh (0.89 ac), scrub-shrub (2.14 ac) and bottomland hardwood wetland (2.54 ac).  The wetlands would also have approximately 1.82 ac of upland buffer.  The total wetlands and upland buffer area would encompass 7.39 ac at the Moose Mitigation Site.  In addition to the use of elevated berms, wetland hydrology would be supplemented by a combination of direct precipitation, surface water run-off from up-gradient areas, excavating to the seasonally shallow groundwater table and overbank flow from Meathouse Fork.  Wetland plants have been selected utilizing the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources “Restoration Planting Community Prediction Tool” (2013).  Figure 9 of 9 illustrates the proposed wetland establishment plan.

The applicant proposes to monitor the wetland mitigation area for a period of five years.  The mitigation site would be protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement or restrictive covenant.

 

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 WVDEP.

 

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: This project must be reviewed to determine any potential effects to properties that may be eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  The proposed Sherwood Natural Gas Plant Expansion project was reviewed by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) to determine if the project would result in impacts to properties listed on or eligible for the NRHP.  To accomplish this, the applicant performed a review of architectural resources (buildings) within the area of the proposed project and a Phase I archaeological survey of the area, and submitted the results to the WVDCH for review.  In a letter dated August 1, 2013, the WVDCH stated upon review of the information submitted, they indicated the proposed project would have no effect on archaeological resources listed in or eligible for inclusion on the NRHP although the reports identified three structures not eligible for inclusion on the NRHP.  The WVDCH did not concur that the buildings would not be eligible for inclusion on the NRHP, and requested Historic Property Inventory forms for the three buildings proposed for demolition in association with the project.  By letter dated September 18, 2013, the WVDCH provided concurrence that the three buildings proposed for demolition are not eligible for inclusion on the NRHP.  Therefore the Corps has determined the proposed expansion project would have no effect on properties listed on or eligible for listing on the NRHP.

The applicant is also conducting a Phase I archaeological survey on the proposed Moose Mitigation Site.  The Corps will evaluate the results of this survey to determine if the proposed compensatory mitigation would have an effect on historic properties.

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 potential effects on historic properties.  If you wish to provide comments or objections regarding the effect of the proposed project on historic properties, please provide this information to our office prior to the close of the comment period.

 

ENDANGERED/THREATENED SPECIES REVIEW: This public notice will serve as coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concerning threatened or endangered species, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1972 (as amended).  Five (5) federally listed endangered species, the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), clubshell (Pleurobema clava), rayed bean mussel (Villosa fabalis), snuffbox mussel (Epioblasma triquetra) and eastern cougar (Felis concolor cougar), and one proposed listed endangered species, the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), may occur within the proposed project area or proposed mitigation area.  The eastern cougar has likely been extirpated from the state and therefore the proposed project and mitigation would have no effect on this species.  A total of approximately 15 ac of mature forested habitat would be cleared in association with the proposed project, and based on correspondence with the USFWS dated April 24, 2013, the proposed project and mitigation would have no effect on the Indiana bat.  The northern long-eared bat was recently (October 1, 2013) proposed to be listed as “endangered” in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.  Based on the similarity of habitat utilized by this species and the previous determination by the USFWS regarding the Indiana bat, the Corps has determined the proposed project and mitigation would have no effect on this species.  Due to the proposed project’s and mitigation site’s proximity to Buckeye Creek (project) and Meathouse Fork (mitigation), the proposed project may affect, but would not likely adversely affect, the three mussel species identified above.  It is anticipated best management practices at both sites would prevent indirect impacts to the mussel species due to stormwater runoff from the sites.

This public notice serves as a request to the USFWS for any additional information they may have on whether any federally listed or proposed species may be present in the area which would be affected by the activity.

PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND COMMENT: 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act.  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.

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 person who has an interest that may be adversely affected by the issuance of a permit may request 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.   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 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.                                         

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:

 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

ATTN: CELRH-RD-E Public Notice No. LRH-2011-753-OHR

502 Eighth 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 the above, please call Jim Spence of the Energy Resource Branch at (304) 399-5610.