[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 130 (Friday, July 6, 2012)]
[Pages 40037-40039]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-16441]




Notice of the Peer Review Meeting for EPA's Draft Report Entitled 
An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of 
Bristol Bay, AK

AGENCY: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of external peer review meeting.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing 
that Versar, Inc., an EPA contractor for external peer review, has 
convened a panel of experts and will organize and conduct an 
independent expert external peer review meeting on August 7-9, 2012, to 
review the draft report entitled An Assessment of Potential Mining 
Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Versar, Inc. 
invites the public to register to attend the first two days of this 
meeting as observers. In addition, Versar, Inc. invites the public to 
register to provide oral testimony

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during Day 1 (August 7, 2012) of the external peer review meeting. The 
panel will meet privately on Day 3 (August 9, 2012) of the meeting. The 
expert panel is charged with reviewing the scientific and technical 
merit of the draft assessment. The panel will not be making 
recommendations to the EPA concerning any potential future actions or 
policies. Therefore, the peer review meeting will focus on issues of 
science relevant to the assessment, rather than its policy 
implications. The panel will have access to public comments received in 
the official public docket (docket ID number EPA-HQ-ORD-2012-0276) 
during the assessment's public comment period, as well as oral comments 
made on Day 1 of the peer review meeting. The draft assessment is 
available through www.regulations.gov and at www.epa.gov/bristolbay. In 
preparing the final assessment, EPA will consider Versar, Inc.'s report 
of the comments and recommendations from the external peer review 
meeting, as well as written public comments received through the 
official public docket. The final peer review report prepared by 
Versar, Inc. will be made available to the public. EPA has released 
this draft assessment for the purposes of public comment and peer 
review. This draft assessment is not final as described in EPA's 
information quality guidelines, and it does not represent and should 
not be construed to represent Agency policy or views.

DATES: The public peer review panel meeting will be held on August 7-8, 
2012, beginning and ending at approximately 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. 
(AKDT) on both days.

ADDRESSES: The independent expert external peer review meeting will be 
held at the Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center, located at 600 West 
Seventh Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska.
    Meeting Background: As part of the peer review process for the 
EPA's draft assessment report, the public portion of the peer review 
meeting will be held on August 7-8, 2012 at the Dena'ina Civic & 
Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska. On both days, the meeting will 
begin at 8:30 a.m. (AKDT) and will end at approximately 5:00 p.m. 
(AKDT). Members of the public and any other interested parties may 
register to attend both days of the meeting as observers, and to offer 
oral testimony on the first day of the meeting.
    The focus of this peer review meeting is the scientific content and 
merit of the EPA's draft assessment. Public speakers are encouraged to 
focus on issues directly relevant to science-based aspects of the 
assessment, and to address specific scientific points in their oral 
testimony. The peer review process is separate from the EPA public 
comment meetings held in early June that enabled members of the public 
to provide comments and voice opinions concerning the EPA's draft 
assessment report and its potential policy implications for the public 
    Day 1 of the meeting (August 7, 2012) will be dedicated to hearing 
oral comments on the draft assessment. Members of the public who have 
registered in advance to provide oral comments will have the 
opportunity to speak during the observer comment session. Each speaker 
will be allowed between 3-5 minutes, depending on number of speakers 
registered. Given time constraints, a maximum of 100 speakers will be 
allowed to offer testimony. If more than 100 speakers register to 
provide oral comments, speakers will be selected by Versar in a manner 
designed to optimize representation from all organizations, 
affiliations, and present a balance of science issues relevant to the 
Agency's science assessment. Additional information on selection of 
speakers and speaking times will be sent out by August 3, to all 
individuals who register to speak.
    To accommodate as many speakers as possible, registered speakers 
will present oral comments only, without visual aids or written 
material. All members of the public, including registered observers and 
speakers, are encouraged to submit written comments and materials to 
the official public docket for the draft assessment (docket ID number 
EPA-HQ-ORD- 2012-0276) by the close of the public comment period on 
July 23, 2012. Panel members will have access to any written comments 
and materials submitted to the official public docket by this deadline. 
Registered observers and speakers will not be allowed to distribute any 
written materials directly to the peer review panel. To submit written 
comments, please follow one of the methods outlined in the previous 
Federal Register notice, issued on May 25, 2012, initiating the 
assessment's public comment period: Federal Register Volume 77, Number 
102 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-25/html/2012-12808.htm).
    Day 2 of the meeting (August 8, 2012) will be devoted to 
deliberations of the EPA's draft assessment by the peer review panel, 
guided by the charge questions provided to the public for public 
comment. Registered observers may attend and observe the peer review 
panel deliberations on Day 2, but will not be allowed to address the 
panel or provide oral or written comments.
    Registration: To attend the August 7-8 public portion of the peer 
review meeting, you must register for the meeting by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) 
on July 23, 2012. You can register for the meeting by visiting http://www.versar.com/epa/bristolbayregistration.html, completing the online 
registration form, and submitting the required information. You can 
also register through U.S. Postal Service or overnight/priority mail by 
sending the necessary registration information (see Required 
Registration Information) to the Versar Meeting Coordinator, Ms. 
Brittany Ekstrom, Versar, Inc., 6850 Versar Center, Springfield, VA 
22151; Telephone: (703) 642-6767. Registrations sent via U.S. Postal 
Service or overnight/priority mail must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) 
on July 23, 2012. There will be no on-site registration, so members of 
the public who do not register by July 23, 2012 via one of the methods 
detailed above will not be able to attend the peer review meeting.
    Required Registration Information: To register for the meeting 
online or via post, you must provide your full name, organization or 
affiliation, and contact information. You must also indicate which days 
you plan to attend the meeting and if you are interested in making an 
oral statement during the public comment session on Day 1 of the 
meeting. If you register to speak, you must also indicate if you have 
any special requirements related to your oral comments (e.g., 
    If you indicate that you wish to make oral comments, you will be 
asked to select one category most closely reflecting the content of 
your comments. These comment categories are: (i) Mine scenario and 
operational modes; (ii) potential failures and probabilities; (iii) 
hydrology; (iv) toxicity; (v) potential effects on Alaska Native 
culture; (vi) potential effects on fish; (vii) potential effects on 
wildlife; and (viii) other issues. Should more than 100 speakers 
register, these categories will be used to ensure that a balance of 
substantive science issues relevant to the assessment are heard.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding logistics or 
registration for the external peer review meeting should be directed to 
Ms. Brittany Ekstrom, Versar, Inc., 6850 Versar Center, Springfield, 
VA, 22151; telephone: (703) 642-6767; or via email at 
[email protected].


[[Page 40039]]

I. Information About the Project

    The EPA conducted this assessment to determine the significance of 
Bristol Bay's ecological resources and evaluate the potential impacts 
of large-scale mining on these resources. The EPA will use the results 
of this assessment to inform the consideration of options consistent 
with its role under the Clean Water Act. The assessment is intended to 
provide a sound scientific and technical foundation for future decision 
making. The Web site that describes the project is www.epa.gov/bristolbay.

II. Information About the Peer Review Panel

    The EPA released the draft assessment for the purposes of public 
comment and peer review on May 18, 2012. Consistent with guidelines for 
the peer review of highly influential scientific assessments, EPA asked 
a contractor (Versar, Inc.) to assemble a panel of experts to evaluate 
the draft report. Versar, Inc. evaluated the 68 candidates nominated 
during a previous public comment period (February 24, 2012 to March 16, 
2012) and sought other experts to complete this peer review panel. The 
twelve peer review panel members were made public in EPA's previous 
FRN, issued on June 5, 2012. The panelist's names are included below, 
with corrections made to account for errors present in the June 5, 2012 

Mr. David Atkins, Watershed Environmental, LLC.--Expertise in mining 
and hydrology.
Mr. Steve Buckley, WHPacific--Expertise in mining and seismology.
Dr. Courtney Carothers, University of Alaska Fairbanks--Expertise in 
indigenous Alaskan cultures.
Dr. Dennis Dauble, Washington State University--Expertise in fisheries 
biology and wildlife ecology.
Dr. Gordon Reeves, USDA Pacific NW Research Station--Expertise in 
fisheries biology and aquatic biology.
Dr. Charles Slaughter, University of Idaho--Expertise in hydrology.
Dr. John Stednick, Colorado State University--Expertise in hydrology 
and biogeochemistry.
Dr. Roy Stein, Ohio State University--Expertise in fisheries and 
aquatic biology.
Dr. William Stubblefield, Oregon State University--Expertise in aquatic 
biology and ecotoxicology.
Dr. Dirk van Zyl, University of British Columbia--Expertise in mining.
Dr. Phyllis Weber Scannell--Expertise in aquatic ecology and 
Dr. Paul Whitney--Expertise in wildlife ecology and ecotoxicology.

    Dated: June 29, 2012.
Darrell Winner,
Acting Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment.
[FR Doc. 2012-16441 Filed 7-5-12; 8:45 am]