[Federal Register Volume 60, Number 77 (Friday, April 21, 1995)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 19872-19878]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 95-9927]



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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

40 CFR Part 228

[FRL-5194-4]


Ocean Dumping; Proposed Designation of Site

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: EPA proposes to designate an ocean dredged material disposal 
site, the Humboldt Open Ocean Dredged Site (HOODS), located offshore of 
Humboldt Bay, California, for the disposal of suitable dredged material 
removed from the Humboldt Bay region and other nearby harbors or 
dredging sites. EPA has tentatively determined that the site selected 
in the Draft EIS as the preferred site will be the site designated as 
HOODS in this Proposed Rule. The proposed HOODS is located between 
approximately 3 and 4 nautical miles (5 and 7 kilometers) west of the 
Humboldt Bay entrance and occupies an area of 1 square nautical mile (3 
square [[Page 19873]] kilometers). Water depths within the area range 
from 160 to 180 feet (49 to 55 meters). The coordinates of the corners 
of the proposed square site are: 40 deg.48'25'' North latitude (N) by 
124 deg.16'22'' West longitude (W); 40 deg.49'03'' N by 124 deg.17'22'' 
W; 40 deg.47'38'' N by 124 deg.17'22'' N; and 40 deg.48'17'' N by 
124 deg.18'12'' W (North American Datum from 1983). This proposed 
action is necessary to provide an acceptable ocean dumping site for 
disposal of suitable dredged material from Northern California dredging 
sites, including Humboldt Bay and Harbor; the suitability of proposed 
dredged material will be determined by appropriate sediment testing 
protocols. The proposed designation of HOODS is for a period of 50 
years. Disposal operations at the site will be prohibited if the site 
management and monitoring program is not implemented.

DATES: Comments on this proposed rule must be submitted by June 6, 
1995.

ADDRESSES: Send questions or comments to: Mr. Allan Ota, Ocean Disposal 
Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX (W-3-3), 
75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, California 94105, telephone (415) 
744-1980. The supporting document for this designation is the Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Designation of an Ocean 
Dredged Material Disposal Site off Humboldt Bay, California, March 
1995, which is available for public inspection at the following 
locations:
    A. EPA Public Information Reference Unit (PIRU), Room 2904 (rear), 
401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C.
    B. EPA Region IX, Library, 75 Hawthorne Street, 13th Floor, San 
Francisco, California.
    C. Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, P.O. 
Box 1030, Eureka, California.
    D. Humboldt County Library, 421 I Street, Eureka, California.
    E. Humboldt State University Library, Arcata, California.
    F. Arcata City Library, 500 7th Street, Arcata, California.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mr. Allan Ota, Ocean Disposal Coordinator, U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency, Region IX (W-3-3), 75 Hawthorne Street, San 
Francisco, California 94105, telephone (415) 744-1980.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Background

    Section 102(c) of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries 
Act (MPRSA) of 1972, as amended, 33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq., gives the 
Administrator of EPA authority to designate sites where ocean dumping 
may be permitted. On October 1, 1986 the Administrator delegated 
authority to designate ocean dredged material disposal sites (ODMDS) to 
the Regional Administrator of the EPA Region in which the sites are 
located. The proposed HOODS designation action is being made pursuant 
to that authority.
    The EPA Ocean Dumping Regulations (40 CFR 228.4) state that ocean 
dumping sites will be designated by publication pursuant to 40 CFR part 
228. This proposed site designation is being published as proposed 
rulemaking in accordance with Sec. 228.4(e) of the Ocean Dumping 
Regulations, which permits the designation of ocean disposal sites for 
dredged material. Interested persons may participate in this proposed 
rulemaking by submitting written comments within 45 days of the date of 
this publication to the address given above.
    The proposed HOODS is located between approximately 3 and 4 
nautical miles (5 and 7 kilometers) west of the Humboldt Bay entrance 
and occupies an area of approximately 1 square nautical mile (3 square 
kilometers). Water depths within the area range from approximately 160 
to 180 feet (49 to 55 meters). The coordinates of the corners of the 
proposed square site are: 40 deg.48'25'' North latitude (N) by 
124 deg.16'22'' West longitude (W); 40 deg.49'03'' N by 124 deg.17'22'' 
W; 40 deg.47'38'' N by 124 deg.17'22'' N; and 40 deg.48'17'' N by 
124 deg.18'12'' W (North American Datum from 1983). EPA Region IX now 
proposed to designate HOODS as an ocean dredged material disposal site 
for continued use for a period of 50 years.
    Site use is subject to implementation of site management and 
monitoring requirements contained in the Draft EIS, which are now 
identified as the draft Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP) for 
the HOODS. The draft SMMP incorporates a tiered site monitoring 
structure and MPRSA Section 103 permit review, and identifies standard 
conditions that must be included in any permit or authorization for 
disposal site use.

B. EIS Development

    Section 102(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 
1969, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., requires that Federal agencies prepare an 
environmental impact statement (EIS) on proposals for major Federal 
actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. 
The object of NEPA is to build into the agency decision-making process 
careful consideration of all environmental aspects of proposed actions, 
including evaluation of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action.
    A Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS has been published in the 
Federal Register discussing EPA's intent to designate an open ocean 
dredged material disposal site off Humboldt Bay, California. The Draft 
EIS, titled: Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Designation 
of an Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site off Humboldt Bay, 
California, evaluated a range of potential alternative disposal sites 
as summarized below. The comment period will close 45 days after the 
Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS has been published in the 
Federal Register. Anyone desiring a copy of the Proposed Rule or Draft 
EIS may obtain them from the EPA Region IX office address given above.

EIS Alternatives Analysis

    On average, over 800,000 cubic yards of dredged material are 
generated annually as a result of routine federal maintenance dredging 
operations by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in Humboldt Bay 
and Harbor. Historically, most of this dredged material has been 
disposed at 3 different sites offshore of Humboldt Bay. Although 
dredged material has been disposed at the sites known as ``SF-3'' and 
``NDS'' in the past, environmental and navigational safety concerns 
shifted disposal operations to HOODS for the last 3 years.
    EPA's analysis of alternatives included detailed examination of 
several potential ocean dumping sites for dredged materials from the 
Humboldt Bay region and other nearby harbors or dredging sites, 
including potential alternative means of handling these dredged 
materials other than disposal at an ocean dump site. Alternatives 
evaluated in detail in the draft EIS are discussed below. Note that 
designation of an ocean dumping site does not authorize any actual 
dumping and does not preclude EPA or the Corps from finding in the 
future, or for individual projects, that alternative means of managing 
dredged materials from the Humboldt Bay region are available and 
environmentally preferable.
    EPA has determined that it is necessary to designate an ocean 
dumping site for dredged materials from Humboldt Bay site now, even if 
alternatives to ocean dumping should eventually prove to be available, 
because it is unlikely that alternative means of managing dredged 
material will accommodate all of the dredged [[Page 19874]] material 
that will be generated in the future. As discussed in the Draft EIS, 
there are significant limitations at present to the potential 
alternatives to ocean dumping of dredged material in the Humboldt Bay 
region. However, in all cases, the disposition of dredged materials 
from individual projects will be evaluated by EPA Region IX and the 
Corps' San Francisco District on a case-by-case basis, taking into 
account all the alternatives available at the time of permitting. 
Beneficial reuse alternatives will be preferred over ocean disposal 
whenever they are practicable and would cause less adverse impacts than 
ocean disposal.
    The following ocean disposal alternatives were evaluated in the 
Draft EIS:
    1. No Action--Failure to designate a permanent ocean disposal site 
pursuant to Section 102 of the MPRSA would have significant negative 
consequences. First, the continued foreseeable need to have an 
appropriate site for disposal of suitable sediments from various 
Humboldt Bay dredging projects would place pressure on the Corps and 
EPA to approve on a project-by-project basis the use of existing or 
temporary ocean dumping locations pursuant to MPRSA Section 103. This 
could result in: Increased cumulative effects if multiple disposal 
sites were used over time; projects delays (with potential navigation 
and human safety consequences); and the inefficient expenditure of 
limited government resources on multiple site designation actions and 
monitoring programs over time. Second, the Water Resources Development 
Act of 1992 prohibits the continued use of ocean dump sites which have 
not been designated by EPA as Section 102 dump sites by the end of 
1997. If EPA fails to designate the HOODS by that date, then ocean 
disposal of dredged materials taken from Humboldt Bay projects will be 
effectively precluded under Section 102 of the MPRSA.
    2. Upland Disposal--Several upland sites were considered for 
disposal of dredged materials from Humboldt Bay, including the 
``Superbowl'' site which was originally designed to contain 
approximately 1 million cubic yards of dredged material. EPA has 
eliminated the ``Superbowl'' site from further consideration in the 
Draft EIS because of the nearby presence of an endangered plant species 
(Erysium menziesii, or Menzie's Wallflower) and the small capacity of 
the site relative to the needs of harbor maintenance and new work 
dredging over a 50-year period. Other land disposal sites were also 
considered but were not investigated in detail because of the potential 
for adverse impacts on wetlands, inadequate capacity, and/or conflicts 
with other land uses.
    3. Beach Nourishment--This disposal alternative was considered 
because much of the sediment dredged from the Humboldt Bay region is 
sand. (Sediments dredged from the Bar and Entrance, North Bay Channels, 
and the Field's Landing Channel in the area north of Buhne Point are 
predominately medium- to fine-grained sand. However, sediments in the 
southern reach of the Field's Landing Channel and the Samoa and Eureka 
Channels have historically been finer-grained material that would not 
be suitable for beach nourishment.) EPA has eliminated this alternative 
from further consideration for these areas because the dredging and 
disposal operations are not expected to be practicable for all of the 
material generated in the region. Stationary dredging plants cannot be 
used in the entrance and main channel areas because of exposure to 
rough sea conditions. Use of a hopper dredge would require rehandling 
which would result in adverse localized (in-bay) environmental impacts. 
The dredged sediments would be deposited at a sheltered in-bay site by 
hopper dredge (effects on in-bay biota), and hydraulically re-dredged 
for transport by slurry pipeline to the North or South Spit beach 
sites. Dredging and nearshore disposal directly via hopper dredge 
without rehandling is discussed below. This alternative would have 
greater overall adverse impacts than the preferred alternative (HOODS). 
(Note that EPA and the Corps may still determine that beach nourishment 
is the preferable alternative for individual projects on a case-by-case 
basis.)
    4. Disposal off the Continental Shelf--The EPA Ocean Dumping 
Regulations (40 CFR 228.5(e)) state that the EPA will, whenever 
feasible, designate ocean dumping sites beyond the edge of the 
continental shelf and/or at sites that have been historically used (to 
minimize cumulative effects). Disposal off the continental shelf would 
require use of a site located 10 nautical miles (19 kilometers) or 
farther from Humboldt Bay. The Corps has determined that the Zone of 
Siting Feasibility (ZSF--the radius limit for economically feasible 
disposal operations for the Humboldt Bay area) is 4 nautical miles from 
the entrance to Humboldt Bay. EPA has therefore eliminated alternatives 
off the continental shelf because they would be outside the ZSF, and 
because historical disposal sites exist on the continental shelf within 
the ZSF.
    5. Nearshore Disposal Site (NDS)--This alternative site is located 
approximately 2 nautical miles (4 kilometers) southwest of the Humboldt 
Harbor mouth. Two disposal episodes occurred at this site as part of a 
study to determine whether sediments discharged at the NDS would remain 
in the littoral zone and promote beach nourishment. The study indicated 
some shoaling and some evidence of shoreward transport. EPA has 
eliminated this alternative from further consideration because, while 
it provides a potential beneficial reuse of sandy sediments, there has 
been strong objection by local fishermen's groups to the use of this 
site based on adverse impacts on navigational safety in the vicinity of 
the southern approach and on commercial fishery resources that inhabit 
the nearshore area. These resources include egg-brooding Dungeness 
crab, juvenile Dungeness crab, and juvenile English sole. This 
alternative would have greater overall adverse impacts than the 
preferred alternative (HOODS).
    6. Disposal Site SF-3--This alternative disposal site is located 
approximately 1 nautical mile (2 kilometers) southwest of the Humboldt 
Harbor mouth. This site has been used previously by the Corps for 
disposal of dredged material from Humboldt Bay. This site was de-
designated as an interim site on December 31, 1988, although it had 
been used subsequently under authority of the provisions of Section 103 
of the MPRSA. EPA has eliminated this alternative from further 
consideration because of concerns about adverse impacts on safe 
navigation and on commercial and recreational fisheries. This site 
would have greater overall adverse impacts than the preferred 
alternative (HOODS).
    7. Humboldt Open Ocean Disposal Site (HOODS)--The Draft EIS 
identified this alternative site as the preferred alternative based on 
comparison to the alternative sites listed above, and to the specific 
selection criteria listed in 40 CFR 228.6(a). The proposed HOODS is 
located furthest from the coast (between approximately 3 and 4 nautical 
miles west of the Humboldt Bay entrance) and in the deepest depth range 
(approximately 160 to 180 feet, or 49 to 55 meters). The 1 square 
nautical mile (3 square kilometer) site represents an extremely small 
area relative to the extent of similar habitat in the surrounding 
region. Bathymetric and sediment surveys indicate the proposed HOODS is 
located in a depositional area which is likely to retain dredged 
material deposited on the sea floor. No significant impacts to other 
resources or [[Page 19875]] amenity areas are expected to result from 
the proposed designation of the HOODS. Existing and potential fisheries 
resources within the proposed HOODS are minimal relative to the other 
ocean or nearshore alternatives and the site is removed from more 
important fishing grounds located closer to or within the other 
alternative sites. Studies have shown that abundances and biomass of 
demersal fishes and megafaunal invertebrates, at the proposed HOODS are 
lower than those at the other alternative sites. Water column impacts 
resulting from disposal of dredged material are expected to be 
temporary and localized within the site. Therefore, potential impacts 
to surface and mid-water dwelling organisms, such as seabirds, marine 
mammals, and midwater fishes, are expected to be insignificant.
    EPA has determined that this proposed site represents the 
environmentally preferred alternative for designation of an open ocean 
dredged material disposal site for the Humboldt Bay area. Its 
selection, along with the general and specific restrictions on site 
use, avoids and minimizes environmental harm from ocean disposal of 
suitable dredged material to the maximum extend practicable. A Record 
of Decision (ROD) will not be issued as a separate document; instead 
the Final Rule will serve as the ROD for proposed designation of the 
HOODS.

C. Regulatory Requirements

Consistency With the Coastal Zone Management Act

    EPA will prepare a Coastal Consistency Determination (CCD) document 
based on the evaluations presented in the Draft EIS. The CCD will 
evaluate whether the proposed action--designation of the HOODS as 
described in the Draft EIS as an ocean disposal site for up to 50 
years, for dredged material meeting ocean disposal criteria--would be 
consistent with the provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act. The 
CCD will be formally presented to the California Coastal Commission at 
the scheduled public hearing. Any Commission recommendations will be 
incorporated, as appropriate, into the Final EIS and Final Rule.

Endangered Species Act Consultation

    EPA has initiated consultations with the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pursuant to 
provisions of the Endangered Species Act, regarding the potential for 
designation and use of any of the alternative ocean disposal sites 
under study to jeopardize the continued existence of any federally 
listed threatened or endangered species. This consultation process will 
be fully documented in the Final EIS.

Compliance With Ocean Dumping Criteria

    Five general criteria are used in the selection and approval of 
ocean disposal sites for continuing use (40 CFR 228.5). First, sites 
must be selected to minimize interference with other activities, 
particularly avoiding fishery areas or major navigation areas. Second, 
sites must be situated such that temporary (during initial mixing) 
water quality perturbations caused by disposal operations would be 
reduced to normal ambient levels before reaching any beach, shoreline, 
sanctuary, or geographically limited fishery area. Third, if site 
designation studies show that any interim disposal site does not meet 
the site selection criteria, use of such site shall be terminated as 
soon as an alternate site can be designated. Fourth, disposal site size 
must be limited in order to localize for identification and control any 
immediate adverse impacts, and to facilitate effective monitoring for 
long-range effects. Fifth, EPA must, wherever feasible, designate ocean 
dumping sites beyond the edge of the continental shelf and/or where 
historical disposal has occurred.
    As described in the Draft EIS, the proposed HOODS was specifically 
selected to comply with these general criteria. First, as discussed 
further below in discussing the 11 specific site selection criteria, 
EPA has determined that the proposed HOODS is not a significant fishery 
area, is not a major navigation area and otherwise has no 
geographically limited resource values that are not abundant in other 
parts of this coastal region. Second, as also discussed further below, 
dredged material deposited at the proposed site is not expected to 
reach any significant area such as a marine sanctuary, beach, or other 
important natural resource area. Third, although it is a historically 
used site, the proposed HOODS is not an interim disposal site. Fourth, 
the proposed site has an appropriately limited size and has been 
selected to allow for effective monitoring. Fifth, although the 
proposed site is not located beyond the continental shelf, it is 
located in an area historically used for dumping.
    In addition to the 5 general criteria, 11 specific site selection 
criteria are listed in 40 CFR 228.6(a) of the EPA Ocean Dumping 
Regulations for evaluation of all candidate disposal sites. The 5 
general criteria and the 11 specific factors overlap to a great degree. 
The proposed HOODS site, as discussed below, is also acceptable under 
each of the 11 specific criteria.
    1. Geographical position, depth of water, bottom topography and 
distance from coast (40 CFR 228.6(a)(1)). The proposed HOODS is located 
between approximately 3 and 4 nautical miles (5 and 7 kilometers) west 
of the Humboldt Bay entrance and occupies an area of 1 square nautical 
mile (3 kilometers). Water depths within the area range from 160 to 180 
feet (49 to 55 meters). Bathymetric and sediment surveys indicate that 
the proposed site is located in a depositional area. The proposed 
site's depositional nature and natural topography is expected to 
minimize the extent of potential impacts to the benthos, and is 
expected to facilitate long-term containment of deposited material as 
well as site monitoring activities.
    2. Location in relation to breeding, spawning, nursery, feeding, or 
passage areas of living resources in adult or juvenile phases (40 CFR 
228.6(a)(2)). The proposed HOODS provides feeding and breeding areas 
for common resident benthic species. Floating larvae and eggs of 
various species are expected to be found at and near the water surface 
at the site as well as the alternative sites evaluated. However, the 
proposed designation of the site is not expected to affect any 
geographically limited (i.e., unique) habitats, breeding sites, or 
critical areas that are essential to rare or endangered species. In 
comparison to the other alternative sties evaluated, the proposed site 
has the least potential for adverse impact to commercially important 
species.
    3. Location in relation to beaches and other amenity areas (40 CFR 
228.6(a)(3)). The proposed HOODS site is located between approximately 
3 and 4 nautical miles (5 and 7 kilometers) west of the Humboldt Bay 
entrance and approximately 4 to 7 nautical miles from the closest 
nearshore resources, beaches, and other coastal amenity areas. Ocean 
currents in the vicinity of the proposed HOOD flow predominately to the 
northwest and offshore in the winter and predominately to the southwest 
and offshore in the summer. Current speeds are usually on the order of 
0.5 knot (25 centimeters per second) at the surface and less at depth. 
These flows may be strongly influenced by local winds and tides. Any 
residual suspended solids from disposal operations at the proposed 
HOODS are expected to move primarily to the northwest or southwest 
depending on the oceanographic season during any [[Page 19876]] one 
year and generally in the offshore direction throughout the year. 
Because of the relatively shallow depths and slow current speeds, it is 
predicated that the vast bulk of the disposed material will remain 
within the proposed disposal site. For the above reasons, EPA has 
determined that aesthetic impacts of plumes, transport of dredged 
material to any shoreline, and alternation of any habitat of special 
biological significance or marine sanctuary is not expected to occur if 
this proposed site is designated.
    4. Types and quantities of wastes proposed to be disposed of, and 
proposed methods of release, including methods of packing the waste, if 
any (40 CFR 228.6(a)(4)). Over 800,000 cubic yards of dredged material 
are generated annually as a result of federal maintenance dredging 
operations by the Corps in Humboldt and Harbor. In addition, larger 
volumes of dredged material (e.g., from deepening projects) may also be 
generated periodically. Typical composition of dredged material 
disposed at the site is expected to range between two types: 
``predominantly sand'' (grain size greater than 0.075 millimeters) 
versus ``predominantly silt-clay'' (grain size less than 0.075 
millimeters). These material types are based on data from historical 
projects from the Humboldt Bay region. The expected typical disposal 
method would involve hopper dredges (hydraulic dredging), with a 
maximum capacity of up to 5,000 cubic yards but typically carrying 
loads of approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cubic yards of dredged material 
per trip. Dredged material would not be packaged. All dredged material 
proposed for disposal at the proposed site must be suitable for ocean 
disposal. This determination will be made by DPA Region IX and the 
Corps' San Francisco District based upon the results of an evaluation 
of information developed in accordance with the 1991 EPA/Corps ``Green 
Book'' (e.g., physical, chemical and biological tests) before a MPRSA 
Section 103 permit can be issued. Dumping of prohibited materials or 
other industrial or municipal wastes will not be permitted at the 
proposed site (40 CFR 227.5 and 227.6(a)). Existing information 
suggests that it is appropriate to dispose, via hopper dredge or 
bottom-dump barge, of the type of dredged material that will be removed 
from the Humboldt Bay region at the proposed HOODS. Because of the 
relatively shallow depths and slow current speeds, the dredged material 
is expected to settle rapidly to the ocean bottom within the boundaries 
of the proposed site and not to create plumes which will reach 
significant areas such as marine sanctuaries, recreational areas, or 
geographically limited habitats at greater than background 
concentrations. Disposing dredged material at the proposed site which 
meets regulatory criteria for ocean dumping is expected to create some 
limited alteration of benthic habitat within site boundaries, but 
should not create substantial adverse impacts extending beyond site 
boundaries. For these reasons, no significant adverse impacts are 
expected to be associated with the types and quantities of dredged 
material that may be disposed at the proposed site.
    5. Feasibility of surveillance and monitoring (40 CFR 228.6(a)(5)). 
EPA Region IX and the Corps' San Francisco District share the 
responsibilities of managing and monitoring the disposal site, and, 
with the on-site assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), to enforce 
permit conditions within the limits of their jurisdiction. The proposed 
HOODS is located between approximately 3 and 4 nautical miles (5 and 7 
kilometers) offshore and occupies an area ranging in depth from 160 and 
180 feet (49 to 55 meters). Standardized equipment and techniques would 
be used for surveillance and monitoring activities during transit to 
and at the proposed site, as described in the SMMP included in the 
Draft EIS. Based on previous experience at other ocean dredged material 
disposal sites located farther offshore and in deeper waters, EPA has 
determined that the surveillance and monitoring activities are fully 
feasible to implement at the proposed HOODS.
    6. Dispersal, horizontal transport and vertical mixing 
characteristics of the area, including prevailing current direction and 
velocity, if any (40 CFR 228.8(a)(6)). Ocean currents in the vicinity 
of the proposed HOODS flow predominantly to the northwest and offshore 
in the winter and predominantly to the southwest and offshore in the 
summer. Current speeds are usually on the order of 0.5 knot (25 
centimeters per second) at the surface and less at depth. These flows 
may be strongly influenced by local winds and tides. Any residual 
suspended solids from disposal operations at the proposed HOODS are 
expected to move primarily to the northwest or southwest depending on 
the oceanographic season during any one year and generally in the 
offshore direction throughout the year. Because of the relatively 
shallow depths and slow current speeds, it is predicted that the vast 
bulk of the disposed material will remain within the proposed disposal 
site. For these reasons, EPA has determined that the dispersal, 
transport and mixing characteristics of the proposed site, and its 
current velocities and directions, are appropriate for its proposed 
designation as a dredged material disposal site.
    7. Existence and effects of current and previous discharges and 
dumping in the area (including cumulative effects) (40 CFR 
228.6(a)(7)). Under an MPRSA Section 103 permit, the Corps has been 
discharging on average over 800,000 cubic yards of dredged material at 
the proposed HOODS. The NDS has been used for two disposal episodes, 
totaling over 1.4 million cubic yards. The SF-3 site has been used for 
dredged material from maintenance dredging operations since the 1940's. 
It is estimated that a total of 20 to 25 million cubic yards of dredged 
material from the Humboldt Bay Federal navigation channels has been 
disposed at the SF-3 site. No other documented disposal of dredged 
material has occurred within or in the vicinity of the proposed site.
    In addition, no other discharges occur in the immediate vicinity of 
the HOODS. The Simpson Paper Company presently discharges freshwater 
through an outfall into ocean waters adjacent to the Samoa Peninsula, 
although historically it discharged bleached kraft pulp effluent. The 
outfall is approximately 3 nautical miles (5.5 kilometers) east of the 
HOODS, 3 nautical miles (5.5 kilometers) north of the SF-3 site, and 
3.5 nautical miles (6.5 kilometers) north of the NDS. The Louisiana 
Pacific Corporation owns and operates a market bleached kraft pulp mill 
located on the Samoa Peninsula. The discharge from this outfall 
consists of: Process wastewater from kraft pulping, pulp bleaching, and 
pulp drying; solids from its water treatment plant; power boiler 
effluent; and stormwater, As authorized under its National Pollutant 
Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit, the Louisiana Pacific 
Corporation is prohibited from discharging waste water in violation of 
effluent standards or prohibitions established under Section 307(a) of 
the Clean Water Act, and it is prohibited from discharging sewage 
sludge. The outfall is located approximately 3.5 nautical miles (6.5 
kilometers) east of the HOODS, 3.5 nautical miles (6.5 kilometers) 
north of the SF-3 site, and 4 nautical miles (7.5 kilometers) north of 
the NDS. Prevailing near-shore currents would direct discharge plumes 
from both outfalls up or down the coast, depending on the seasonal 
current regime, not offshore toward the HOODS. The effects of 
discharges are expected to be limited to local areas near the outfalls 
and to not [[Page 19877]] extend to the vicinity of the proposed ocean 
dredged material disposal site (HOODS). For the above reasons, EPA has 
determined that there are no expected adverse cumulative or synergistic 
impacts from the use of the proposed HOODS and discharges from the 
outfalls described above.
    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 (40 CFR 
288.6(a)(8)). In evaluating whether dumping activity at the site could 
interfere with shipping, fishing, recreation, mineral extraction, 
desalination, areas of scientific importance and other legitimate uses 
of the ocean, EPA considered both the direct effects from depositing 
dredged material on the ocean bottom within the proposed HOODS 
boundaries and the indirect effects associated with vessel traffic that 
will result from transportation of dredged material to the proposed 
dump site. Existing information indicates that the proposed site is not 
a significant fisheries area, is not a significant recreational area, 
is not a significant area for harvestable minerals, is not a potential 
staging ground or intake area for desalination activity, is not 
scientifically important in itself, and otherwise has no geographically 
limited resource values that are not abundant in other parts of this 
coastal region. Accordingly, depositing dredged material at the 
proposed site will not interfere with these activities. Finally, vessel 
traffic involved in transportation of dredged material to the proposed 
HOODS should also cause no substantial interference with any of the 
activities discussed above.
    9. The existing water quality and ecology of the site as determined 
by available data or by trend assessment or baseline surveys (40 CFR 
228.6(a)(9)). Existing information and regional studies described in 
the Draft EIS provide the following determinations: Water quality at 
the proposed HOODS is indistinguishable from the water quality of 
nearby areas. Sediments contain background levels or low concentrations 
of trace metal and organic contaminants. The demersal fish community 
within the proposed HOODS has lower numbers of species and lower 
abundances than the other alternative sites. The proposed HOODS 
contains moderate numbers of megafaunal invertebrate species (Dungeness 
crab) but lower overall abundances compared to the other alternative 
sites. Infaunal invertebrates (polychaetes, amphipods, and mollusks) 
within the proposed HOODS show higher diversity and abundance compared 
to the other alternative sites; however, these infaunal invertebrate 
trends are similar to the general depth-related trends of the 
surrounding region. Seabirds, marine mammals, and mid-water organisms 
including juvenile rockfishes are seasonally abundant; however, the 
proposed HOODS is not considered to have geographically limited 
resource values that are not also abundant in other alternative sites 
or other parts of this coastal region. Based on these Draft EIS 
conclusions, EPA has determined that, compared to the alternative sites 
evaluated, the HOODS is the environmentally preferred location for 
ocean disposal site designation.
    10. Potentiality for the development or recruitment of nuisance 
species in the disposal site (40 CFR 228.6(a)(10)). Local opportunistic 
benthic species characteristic of disturbed conditions are expected to 
be present and abundant at any ocean dredged material disposal site in 
response to physical deposition of sediments. Opportunistic 
polychaetes, such as Capitella, may colonize the proposed disposal 
site. However, these worms can become food items for local bottom-
feeding fish and are not directly harmful to other species. No 
recruitment of species capable of harming human health or the marine 
ecosystem is expected to occur at the proposed site. Previous studies 
of the benthic fauna present at the SF-3 site and at the NDS support 
the expectation that disposal of dredged material from the Humboldt Bay 
region will not promote the development of nuisance species.
    11. Existence at or in close proximity to the site of any 
significant natural or cultural feature of historical importance (40 
CFR 228.6(a)(11)). The ocean waters in the vicinity of Humboldt Bay 
contain sites of numerous vessel accidents and sinkings. Based on 
previous evaluations for and issuance of MPRSA Section 103 permits, no 
significant national or cultural features of historical importance have 
been identified in the vicinity of the proposed HOODS. The California 
State Historic Preservation Officer has been contacted for an initial 
examination of their inventory and whether there are any known historic 
shipwrecks or any known aboriginal artifacts at the HOODS or in the 
vicinity. Final determination will be made for the Final EIS and Final 
Rule.

D. Site Management and Monitoring of the HOODs

    Implementation of site management and monitoring activities for the 
proposed HOODS is a requirement for site use. These activities must be 
performed in accordance with the Site Management and Monitoring Plan 
(SMMP) included in the Draft and Final EIS. Failure to implement the 
monitoring described in the SMMP precludes use of the proposed site for 
disposal of dredged material until such time when monitoring can be 
resumed.
    The SMMP, jointly administered by EPA Region IX and the Corps San 
Francisco District, embodies management and monitoring activities. 
Management activities consists of: evaluating the suitability of 
sediments proposed for disposal at the HOODS for each project; 
evaluating the performance and conditions of the site based on the 
results of periodic site monitoring; and conducting surveillance and 
enforcement of permits issued for use of the proposed HOODS. Site 
monitoring activities are built upon a tiered monitoring approach. 
These monitoring activities are designed to ensure that the area of 
acceptable impact is primarily restricted to the disposal site and that 
unacceptable environmental impacts do not occur beyond the site 
boundaries. Management decisions at each tier are defined for sediment 
fate and effects, body burdens of chemicals of concern, or benthic 
biological community effects. Each tier will require a management 
decision based on the information gathered. If the null hypothesis for 
a particular tier is rejected, then an change in site management 
practices may be instituted, or a more complex set of tests are invoked 
at the next higher tier to determine the extent of impacts.
    Physical monitoring (Tier 1) is expected to occur on an annual 
basis to determine changes in bathymetry and extent of the dredged 
material deposit (footprint) relative to the site boundaries. If the 
footprint extends beyond the site boundary and exceeds 10 centimeters 
of thickness outside of the site boundary, then an evaluation will be 
made to determine the potential of adverse physical impacts due to 
smothering of the benthic resources by the disposed sediments (Tier 2). 
If EPA determines that the extent of physical impact outside of the 
site boundary is unacceptable, a change in site management practices 
will be instituted. If the extent of the footprint is not unacceptable, 
but the adverse impacts to the benthic resources cannot be clearly 
attributed only to physical factors (i.e., burial), then an evaluation 
will be made to determine the potential of adverse impacts to the 
benthic resources due to elevated chemical contaminants and 
bioaccumulation (Tier 3).
    This monitoring program is designed to facilitate detection of any 
potential [[Page 19878]] unacceptable adverse impacts due to dredged 
material disposal, so that decisions about the need for changes in 
management practices may be made in a timely manner. Depending on the 
results of the periodic monitoring, EPA may at any tier determine that 
one or more of the following types of site management actions is 
required: Continue existing site use; implement higher tier monitoring; 
modify some or all site use restrictions; or discontinue disposal 
activities. EPA expects that the SMMP will be revised and updated from 
time to time based on monitoring results, scientific advancements, and 
experience gained. EPA is committed to considering public comments 
prior to implementing substantive updates to the SMMP. To ensure that 
interested parties have the opportunity to comment, proposed 
substantive updates to the SMMP will be distributed in draft form via a 
Public Notice or similar means.

E. Action

    EPA Region IX has determined that there is a need for an ocean 
dredged material disposal site in the vicinity of Humboldt Bay, 
California. Based on evaluation of alternatives, EPA Region IX has 
tentatively determined that the HOODS may appropriately be designated 
for use over a period of 50 years. The proposed designation of the 
HOODS complies with the general and specific criteria used for site 
evaluation. EPA is, therefore, proposing to designate the HOODS as an 
EPA-approved Ocean Dumping Site in this proposed rulemaking. Management 
of this proposed site will be the responsibility of the Regional 
Administrator of EPA Region IX in cooperation with the Corps' South 
Pacific Division Engineer and the San Francisco District Engineer, 
based on requirements defined in the Final EIS and Final Rule. The 
required management and monitoring activities will be described in a 
SMMP prepared by EPA and incorporated in the Draft and Final EIS, with 
the opportunity for public review. Subsequent substantive revisions of 
the SMMP will be published and subjected to public review.
    It is emphasized that ocean dumping site designation does not 
constitute or imply EPA Region IX's or the Corps San Francisco 
District's approval of actual ocean disposal of dredged materials. 
Before ocean dumping of dredged material at the site may begin, EPA 
Region IX and the Corps San Francisco District must evaluate permit 
applications according to EPA's Ocean Dumping Criteria. Permits cannot 
be issued if either EPA Region IX or the Corps San Francisco District 
determines that the Ocean Dumping Criteria of MPRSA would not be met. 
The requirement for compliance with the Ocean Dumping Criteria of the 
MPRSA may not be superseded by the provisions of any future 
comprehensive regional management plan for dredged material.

F. Regulatory Assessments

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, EPA is required to perform a 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for all Rules which may have a 
significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. EPA has 
determined that this proposed action will not have a significant impact 
on a substantial number of small entities since the proposed site 
designation will only have the effect of providing a disposal option 
for dredged material. Consequently, this Proposed Rule does not 
necessitate preparation of a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.
    This proposed action will not result in an annual effect on the 
economy of $100 million or more or cause any of the other effects which 
would result in its being classified by the Executive Order as a major 
Rule. Consequently, this Proposed Rule does not necessitate preparation 
of a Regulatory Impact Analysis.

G. Responses to Comments on the Site Designation Proposed Rule

    Comment period for this Proposed Rule will end June 6, 1995. 
Comments will be considered and revisions, as appropriate, will be 
incorporated into the Final EIS and Final Rule.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 228

    Environmental protection water pollution control.

    Dated: April 12, 1995.
Felicia A. Marcus,
Regional Administrator, EPA Region IX.
    In consideration of the foregoing, subchapter H of chapter 1 of 
title 40 is proposed to be amended as set forth below.

PART 228--[AMENDED]

    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 (1)(10) to read as 
follows:


Sec. 228.15  Dumping sites designated on a final basis.

* * * * *
    (1) * * *
    (10) Humboldt Open Ocean Disposal Site (HOODS) Ocean Dredged 
Material Disposal Site--Regional IX
    (i) Location: The coordinates of the corners of the square site 
are: 40 deg.48'25'' North latitude (N) by 124 deg.16'22'' West 
longitude (W); 40 deg.49'03'' N by 124 deg.17'22'' W; 40 deg.47'38'' N 
by 124 deg.17'22'' N; and 40 deg.48'17'' N by 124 deg.18'12'' W (North 
American Datum from 1983).
    (ii) Size: 1 square nautical mile (3 square kilometers).
    (iii) Depth: Water depths within the area range between 
approximately 160 to 180 feet (49 to 55 meters).
    (iv) Use Restricted to Disposal of: Dredged materials.
    (v) Period of Use: Continuing use over 50 years from date of site 
designation, subject to restrictions and provisions set forth in 
paragraph (1)(10)(vi) of this section.
    (vi) Restrictions/Provisions: Site management and monitoring 
activities shall be implemented during the period of site use and in 
accordance with the Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP) for the 
HOODS as incorporated in the Draft and Final EIS.\1\ All disposal 
activities shall be terminated if monitoring, as described in the SMMP, 
is not implemented. The SMMP may be periodically revised as necessary; 
proposed substantive revisions to the SMMP shall be made following 
opportunity for public review and comment.

    \1\The Draft and Final EIS are available at the following 
locations: EPA Public Information Reference Unit (PIRU), Room 2904 
(rear), 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. / EPA Region IX, 
Library, 75 Hawthorne Street, 13th Floor, San Francisco, California. 
/ Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, P.O. 
Box 1030, Eureka, California. / Humboldt County Library, 421 I 
Street, Eureka, California. / Humboldt State University Library, 
Arcata, California. / Arcata City Library, 500 7th Street, Arcata, 
California.
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[FR Doc. 95-9927 Filed 4-20-95; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-M