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Bath Iron Works seeks permit for maintenance dredging for its shipbuilding operations in Kennebec River in Bath

Published Aug. 6, 2019

CONCORD, Mass. – Bath Iron Works is 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 maintenance dredging in the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine.


Bath Iron Works is seeking to renew a previous 10-year permit to conduct periodic maintenance dredging activities associated with its shipbuilding operations in the Kennebec River in Bath.


Corps permit NAE-2007-02528, issued Nov. 5, 2009, authorized Bath Iron Works to dredge up to 70,000 cubic yards at their dry dock sinking basin; up to 4,000 cubic yards at their dry dock landing grid; and up to 12,000 cubic yards at berthing piers 1, 2 and 3. Dredged material from the sinking basin has been disposed of downstream, at an in­river site just south of Bath at Bluff Head. Dredged material from the other sites has been disposed of at an upland, non-wetland location. This permit expires on Dec. 31, 2019.


Relative to this request for a new 10-year permit, dimensions of the areas to be dredged are shown in the public notice available on the Corps website listed below. Dredge volumes are expected to remain the same on average but actual quantities for individual dredge events may vary depending on the frequency and degree of shoaling.


No changes in dredge footprints are proposed and it remains the applicant's intention that dredge material from future dredging at these locations will continue to be disposed of in the same manner as previously authorized. All dredging will be conducted by mechanical dredge. Based on historic shoaling rates, current and projected shipbuilding schedules at Bath Iron Works, and current budget forecasts, maintenance dredging is anticipated to be needed and performed at 2-3 year intervals (sinking basin), and annually for the other locations.


The first maintenance dredging event is proposed to occur during the winter of 2019/2020 (dry dock sinking basin, Pier 2, and the dry dock landing grid).


Dredging and disposal activities will impact Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for a variety of species and life stages. The habitat consists of subtidal river bottom composed primarily of sand and silt.  Impacts to the listed species are expected to include turbidity and benthic disturbance, however, these impacts are expected to be minimal and of short duration. Instream work windows and other best management practices are expected to further minimize potential impacts. Therefore, 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.


Similarly, the Corps has initiated consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Kennebec River supports the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon, federally threatened Atlantic sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon Critical Habitat (Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, and Chesapeake Bay DPS), and is within the range of the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic salmon. Consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service will be concluded prior to any final permit decision and will likely result in recommendations to avoid or minimize potential adverse impacts to listed species.


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.; and with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands. The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by Bath Iron Works, can be viewed on the Corps website at https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices/.


Public comments on this work proposed by Bath Iron Works (file # NAE-2019-01461) should be forwarded no later than Sept. 5, 2019 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division, Maine Project Office (ATTN: Jay Clement), 442 Civic Center Drive, Suite 350, Augusta, Maine, 04330. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Jay Clement at 207-623-8367, ext. 1 or by email to: jay.l.clement@usace.army.mil.

Tim Dugan

Release no. 19-071