CONCORD, Mass. – NSTAR Electric Company, doing business as Eversource Energy Company, and the Harbor Electric Energy Company (HEEC), are seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with removing a buried electric cable in South Boston, Massachusetts. Work is proposed in the Reserved Channel and Boston Harbor starting approximately 200 feet to the east of the Summer Street Bridge in South Boston and ending approximately 500 feet to the east of the Boston Harbor Main Shipping Channel Federal Navigation Project (FNP).
The project purpose is to remove an approximately 8,000 linear foot section of the existing buried 115 kV electric HEEC cable and to cap and to abandon the remainder of this cable in place. HEEC is requesting a modification of their original Corps permit (#198900530), which allowed for the installation of this electrical cable. This work is being proposed to resolve outstanding non-compliance issues associated with the HEEC Cable permit (#198900530).
HEEC is currently working to install the New HEEC cable along an alternative alignment under an existing permit (NAE-2016-1163). Once the New HEEC Cable is brought into service, the old HEEC Cable will be de-energized and the dielectric fluid will be pumped from it for proper treatment. The 8,000 linear foot segment of the HEEC cable to be removed will be cut and extracted via 1) winching (direct pull); 2) loosening sediment around the cables using a hydro-donut and then winching; and/or 3) dredging overburden above the cables and then winching.
Depending on the burial depth of the existing HEEC cable, and the method for extraction, the dredge trench could range between 64 and 94 feet wide. This project could involve dredging up to 16.25 acres of sub-tidal bottom within the Reserved Channel and Boston Harbor. HEEC is requesting approval to transport and dispose up to 235,251 cubic yards of dredged material to the Massachusetts Bay Ocean Disposal Site.
The dredging portion of this project may impact up to 16.25 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). Habitat at this site can be described as a surficial silty layer underlain with native rocky clay soils. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. However, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.
The dredged material disposal is proposed for the Massachusetts Bay Ocean Disposal Site. This is an open water site, which provides EFH. Habitat at this site can be described as naturally occurring fine-grained sediment and mounds of deposited fine-grained dredged material. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. However, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.
The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands; and Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, which regulates the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of disposal in the ocean.
The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.
Public comments on this work proposed by Eversource Energy Company and the Harbor Electric Energy Company (file # NAE-1989-00530) should be forwarded no later than March 21, 2019 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Paul Sneeringer), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Paul Sneeringer at 978-318-8491 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.