Corps provides status of rock dike emergency permit request

Published July 2, 2010

NEW ORLEANS – The US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District released the current status as of July 2, 2010 for an emergency permit by Jefferson Parish officials to build two rock dikes in Barataria Basin

The below timeline outlines the actions taken to allow for the offering of the permit:

• June 7: The Jefferson Parish Department of Environmental Affairs submitted an application at 10:03 pm, requesting Department of Army (DA) emergency authorization for five rock dikes to be installed in Caminada Pass, Barataria Pass, Pass Abel, Four Bayou Pass, and Chenier Ronquille Pass as a temporary effort to combat the Deepwater Horizon Oil Discharge.

• June 8: The Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District (CEMVN) Regulatory Branch coordinated and solicited comments for the applicant’s request with state and federal agencies. CEMVN requested that all comments be submitted by 12:00 pm on June 9.

• June 10: CEMVN held a meeting with the applicant and Shaw Group to discuss the project and agency comments/concerns. The meeting prompted Shaw Group to incorporate bathymetric and hydrographic modeling by Coast and Harbor Engineering to provide more detailed information at the five passes. Two follow-up meetings were requested by Shaw Group, one with CEMVN Regulatory Branch, CEMVN Engineering Division, and the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) to discuss hydrographic and bathymetric modeling techniques/results (held on June 18), and a second interagency meeting to discuss modeling results and their June 8-9 comments/concerns (held on June 23). In response to the interagency meeting, the scope of the project was reduced to placing rock structures within two passes, as opposed to five.

• June 24: A final rock dike alignment for Pass Abel and Four Bayou Pass was submitted to CEMVN. This modification requested that the authorization focus on these two passes, with an additional review for the remaining three as they are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Unified Command. On the same day, the final alignment was again forwarded to state and federal agencies for comment. CEMVN requested that all comments be submitted by 12:00 pm on June 25.

• June 25: CEMVN requested the applicant address all comments and provide additional drawings of the rock dike tie-in locations.

• June 28: A response to comments and rock dike tie-in drawings were submitted to CEMVN by the applicant. The rock tie-in drawings were forwarded to Engineering Division for comment.

• June 29: An interagency teleconference was held to discuss each Federal agency’s position, potential special conditions, and monitoring requirements.

• July 1: Letter to Jefferson Parish officials requesting additional information.

The original project proposed on June 7, suggested the rock be placed within the channels and extends to neighboring islands in shortest distance increments. After a magnetometer survey for oil and gas pipelines was requested and completed, it was determined that the alignment needed to be altered. Pass Abel had 5 alternatives, listed as alternative 1, 2, 3a, 3b, and 3c; Four Bayou Pass had 7 alternatives, listed as 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 3c, 5a, and 5b.

The applicant selected alternatives 3b and 5a. Their alternative criteria and selection were based on: an alignment that would not impact nearby oil and gas pipelines; result in a model run which minimized the change in max flood and max ebb velocities within the five passes, and; result in a model run which minimized energy differentials (at max flood and max ebb).

The "No Action" alternative is also being considered for this emergency permit request. Selection of this alternative would result in the proposed rock dike structures not being constructed and avoidance of short- and long-term beneficial and adverse impacts associated with the project. It is reasonable to anticipate that protective measures taken thus far, such as barges staged to intercept and recover oil (as authorized in permit MVN 2010-1342-EOO), strategic boom placement, skimming, and burning would continue. Although these operations have been affected by weather events, they continue to provide a measure of success in reducing oil penetration into the estuary. The "No Action" alternative would avoid basin-wide adverse impacts to the Barataria Bay estuarine system potentially incurred by alteration of current flows and circulation patterns, and possible damage to the extensive pipeline infrastructure that exists in the area. These factors must be considered in weighing project benefits against possible detriments and ensuring a decision on this request that is not contrary to the overall public interest.

Authorization under NOD-20 is temporary and does not replace the normal permit approvals. Within 30 days, a full Department of the Army permit request must be submitted.

"The concerns and comments received from both non-governmental organizations and federal resource agencies have raised additional questions which must be addressed prior to any decision on whether or not to proffer a permit for these rock dikes," said Col. Al Lee, Commander, New Orleans District. "Without answers to the issues raised it would be irresponsible to proceed."

Pertinent documents for this emergency permit request can be viewed at:

Ken Holder

Release no. 10-062