Comment Period: December 18, 2020 – January 17, 2020
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge of fill material and work in approximately 21 acres of waters of the United States to construct the Denmar Natural Soda Ash Export Terminal project. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: Port of Stockton, Attn: Mr. Jason Cashman, 2201 W Washington Street, Stockton, CA, 95203
LOCATION: The approximately 194-acre project site is located in the Port of Stockton’s West Complex on Rough and Ready Island and is bound by the San Joaquin River on the north and east and by the Burns Cutoff on the south and west, Latitude 37.956199°, Longitude -121.375389°, San Joaquin County, California, and can be seen on the Stockton West USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge fill material into or work in 22.63 acres of the on-site aquatic resources, including 22.02 acres of wetland habitats, to construct a terminal for the exportation of soda ash. The specific activities that would result in the permanent loss of wetlands are the excavation and consolidation of contaminated soils, the installation of rail lines, access roads and utilities, and the construction of transfer towers and a railcar unloading building. Placement of an improved fender system would result in work and structures within the San Joaquin River, a navigable water of the United States. The proposed Denmar terminal would receive vessels and include new shiploaders at Berths 18 and 19; construct crew parking and quartering buildings, administration/maintenance support buildings, transfer conveyors, seismic and transfer towers, and storage facilities on warehouse sites; and construct a rail loop and railcar unloading building in the westernmost portion of the West Complex. At the terminal, soda ash would be offloaded from railcars for export either directly onto ocean-going marine vessels or into one of two flat storage buildings where it would be stored temporarily prior to being transferred onto ocean-going marine vessels. The applicant has identified the project purpose as development of the West Complex with a marine terminal and associated infrastructure consistent with Port planning documents, and achieving remediation of contaminated soils at the West Complex in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The applicant believes there is a need to meet an anticipated export demand of 7.0 million tons per annum of natural soda ash. The attached drawings provide additional project details. Once constructed the proposed terminal is anticipated to handle approximately 4.8 million tons per annum of soda ash, which may be derived by diverting soda ash from existing facilities at the Port of Portland, Port of Longview, and along the Texas Gulf Coast, and by increased production or expansion of existing mines near Green River, Wyoming. The proposed facility could handle approximately 7 million tons of soda ash per year, should market conditions allow.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 65.38 acres of aquatic resources within the project area, including 60.62 acres of wetlands. The site is characterized by ruderal or non-native grassland habitats, interspersed with wetland habitats, drainage features and existing industrial development. The project site contains areas with hazardous substances in the soil and groundwater as a result of the former U.S. Navy activities, including “Landfill Cells” in which the Navy disposed of solid waste, and other “Remedial Sites of Interest” in which hazardous chemicals were reportedly released.
Alternatives. The applicant has not provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.
Mitigation. The Corps requires that applicants consider and use all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant proposes to purchase 0.5 floodplain mosaic wetland credits from Cosumnes Floodplain Mitigation Bank for each acre of impact to waters of the U.S.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The Corps will initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as appropriate.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat. The Corps will initiate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as appropriate.
The above determinations are based on information provided by the applicant and our preliminary review.
EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among 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, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).
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. 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 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.
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2020-00825 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before January 6, 2020.
William Ness, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922
The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager William Ness, (916) 557-5268, William.W.Ness@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 11 drawings