- Sponsor/Applicant: The Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Venture (JOTJV) is a body comprised of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA).
- General: On March 12, 2007, the Governors of Georgia (GA) and South Carolina (SC) signed a Term Sheet that identified the construction of a new marine container terminal in Jasper County, SC, and the expansion of existing terminals in GA as the most practical means of increasing the cargo handling capacity of both states. The GPA and SCPA purchased the 1,518-acre project site in June 2008 and executed a Joint Venture Agreement on November 15, 2015, that describes the proposed Jasper Ocean Terminal (JOT) as well as transportation infrastructure requirements.
- Location: The JOT project site (see attached project area maps) is presently developed as Dredged Material Containment Areas 14A and 14B and used by the Savannah District (SAS) to maintain the existing Savannah Harbor Federal Navigation Project. However, additional properties are required to provide road and rail access to the project site from US Highway 17 and existing CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern railroad corridors. In addition, navigation improvements (e.g., an access channel and a turning basin) will be required to support vessel operations, and a new railroad bridge across the Savannah River will be required to provide access to existing railroad corridors in GA.
- Impacts: SAS has a perpetual easement to use the project site for dredged material and other purposes. The site is considered an integral part of the existing Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) for Savannah Harbor. In addition, Department of the Army permits pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act would be required to authorize dredging of approximately 439 acres of navigable waters and the placement of fill material in approximately 54 acres of wetland and other waters of the United States in both GA and SC. Based on the available information, potential adverse impacts to aquatic resources and other public interest factors would be significant and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be required to identify and evaluate potential impacts associated with the proposed project.
CORPS WORK (SAVANNAH DISTRICT) COMPLETED TO DATE FOR JOT:
- 2008-2016: Under Real Estate Title 10 (10 U.S.C. 2695) SAS received $85,000 from GA DOT to evaluate and respond to requests to release, remove, or modify easements on DMCAs 14A and 14B. In 2016, remaining funds from this effort were transferred to the District’s work under a JOTJV Section 408 request.
2013-2014: Under the Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Program, SAS conducted a Savannah River Channel Capacity Study in September 2014 that identified the impacts on vessel queuing times in the Savannah River from container vessels that could serve a new 7.0 million Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) marine container terminal in SC. The study was cost-shared 50 Fed/50 Non-Fed at a total cost of $137,400. The study sponsors were the GPA and SCPA.
CORPS WORK UNDERWAY AND ONGOING 2015-PRESENT:
- The development of the proposed JOT and associated transportation infrastructure requires the following: 1) Department of the Army permits from both SAC Regulatory Division and SAS Regulatory Branch (SAC-RD and SAS-OP-F), 2) review and approval of a Section 408 request by SAS Planning (SAS-PM-P) to address potential impacts to Savannah Harbor, and 3) approval of a release of easements by SAS Real Estate (SAS-RE).
CHARLESTON DISTRICT SECTION 404 (CLEAN WATER ACT) REGULATORY PERMITTING:
- Nov 2015: The JOTJV provided SAC with a general description of the proposed marine container terminal and the associated road, rail, and navigation infrastructure, and requested SAC initiate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the construction and operation of the proposed JOT.
- Jan 2016 – May 2016: SAC and the JOTJV worked together to develop a preliminary scope of work and subsequently, SAC contracted with Atkins North America, Inc. (Atkins) to prepare the EIS for the proposed JOT. SAC-RD, SAS-OP-F, Atkins, and JOTJV hold bi-weekly conference calls to discuss ongoing activities associated with the Regulatory EIS.
- Oct 2016 and Jan 2017: A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Draft EIS for the proposed JOT was published in the Federal Register and a local public notice was forwarded to adjacent property owners and interested parties on October 21, 2016. A second public notice was issued on January 17, 2017, announcing the date, time, and location of an open house and public scoping meeting. Over 150 people attended the January 31, 2017, scoping meeting and the event was also covered by several local news outlets. The public and agency comment period ended on March 1, 2017, and a scoping report is posted on the project website, JasperOceanTerminalEIS.com.
- Dec 2016 and Feb 2017: Interagency meetings were held to provide federal and state (both GA and SC) regulatory and resource agencies with additional information about the proposed JOT. The agencies expressed concerns about potential impacts to the human and natural environment. The concerns include potential impacts to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, Essential Fish Habitat, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources, air quality, noise, traffic, and water quality (dissolved oxygen) impacts within the Savannah River.
- May 2017: SAC-RD submits a written request to the JOTJV for additional information that is required to finalize the Corps’ project purpose and to identify the alternatives to the proposed project that will be evaluated in the draft EIS. For example, the Joint Venture Agreement states the proposed JOT would accommodate fully loaded 14,000 to 20,000 TEU vessels without tidal restriction. SAC-RD has requested clarification about whether additional improvements to the federal navigation channel to accommodate larger vessels are an integral component of the proposed JOT, or whether the JOT is a single and complete project and will be developed on the existing federal navigation channel (-47 feet Mean Lower Low Water) (MLLW).
- Jun 2017: The JOT Board of Directors reviewed and approved a scope of services and a budget for their contractor’s work (Moffat & Nichol) on the project for Fiscal Year 2018 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018). The work included funding SAC’s third party contractor (Atkins) for the coming year. The initial scope of services for Atkins is limited to gathering information about the proposed JOT and the affected environment. The scope of services will need to be updated to include information about alternatives once a response is received from the JOTJV.
- Based on coordination with the JOTJV, there are landside activities that the Corps can begin work on while the JOTJV is preparing a response to the SAC-RD request for additional information. The Corps and Atkins held kick-off meetings with the GA and SC Departments of Transportation, Lowcountry Council of Governments, and the Savannah Municipal Planning Organization. Additional coordination meetings with stakeholders are expected to occur in late 2017 or early 2018 once the transportation model has been developed and calibrated. Preliminary findings from the transportation modeling are expected to be available during the summer of 2018.
SAVANNAH DISTRICT SECTION 408 (33 U.S.C. 408):
- Feb 2016: The JOTJV requested SAS perform a Section 408 review of the impacts on the Savanah Harbor Navigation Project of the proposed JOT.Dec 2016: The JOTJV provided SAS with $1,000,000 to begin evaluating potential impacts to the Savannah Harbor federal navigation project. One of the first tasks is to add sediment modeling to the EFDC model that was used to evaluate the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). That update will allow a better assessment of sedimentation and shoaling rates within the navigation channel. The District awarded a contract task order on August 25, 2017 to Tetra Tech Merrick Joint Venture to perform this work. The work will identify the amount of dredged material to be removed to maintain a safe navigation channel, as well as berth access to the proposed JOT. Completion of this contract is projected in May 2018 and contains analysis of dissolved oxygen levels from the proposed JOT.
- Jun 2017: SAS transmitted the Review Plan to SAD for approval for the Section 408 decision.
- Aug 2017: SAS requests Sec 408 funds ($20,000 in FY2017 and $100,000 in FY2018).
- SAS-PM-P, SAS-OP-F, and SAC-RD hold monthly conference calls to discuss ongoing activities associated with the Section 408 process.
SAVANNAH DISTRICT SECTION 203 (WRDA 1986), AS AMENDED BY SECTION 1126 (WRDA 2016):
- Jul 2017: The JOTJV requests SAS technical assistance to conduct a study of modifications to the Savannah Harbor Navigation Project to improve navigation efficiency to the JOT. The JOTJV would submit their completed study to ASA (CW) for eventual submission for Congressional authorization as a modification to the federal navigation project.
- Aug 2017: In conjunction with the South Atlantic Division (SAD), SAS is assembling a regional team to begin development of the technical tasks and scope associated with this work following the successful negotiation of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Corps and the JOTJV. SAS has prepared the draft MOA and provided it to the JOTJV for their review. The first supplemental Support Agreement will provide funds to prepare a Project Management Plan (PMP) and include the scope, schedule, and cost of the Corps’ technical assistance.
CORPS POINTS OF CONTACT:
Charleston District Sec 404: Mr. Nat Ball, Regulatory Project Manager, 843-329-8047
Savannah District Sec 408: Mr. William Bailey, Chief, Planning Branch, 912-652-5781
Savannah District Sec 203: Ms. Laurie Sattler, Civil Project Manager, 912-652-6113