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Regulated Navigation Area; Kill Van Kull Channel, Newark Bay Channel, South Elizabeth Channel, Elizabeth Channel, Port Newark Channel and New Jersey Pierhead Channel, New York and New Jersey

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DOT.

ACTION:

Temporary final rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard is amending a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) to add restrictions on vessels transiting the Bergen Point West Reach of the Kill Van Kull during U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging operations in that area. This action is necessary to provide for the safety of life and property on navigable waters during dredging operations that impinge upon the navigable portion of the channel and require the temporary relocation of navigational aids. This action is intended to reduce the risks of collisions, groundings and other navigational mishaps.

DATES:

This rule is effective from June 17, 2002 to March 30, 2003. Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before August 26, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

The Waterways Oversight Branch of Coast Guard Activities New York maintains the public docket for this rulemaking. Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket CGD01-02-069 and are available for inspection or copying at Waterways Oversight Branch, Coast Guard Activities New York, 212 Coast Guard Drive, room 203, Staten Island, New York 10305, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Lieutenant Commander C. Nichols, Vessel Traffic Service, Coast Guard Activities New York at (718) 354-4191.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Request for Comments

We encourage you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related material. If you do so, please include your name and address, identify the docket number for Start Printed Page 42724this rulemaking (CGD01-02-069), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and give the reason for each comment. You may submit your comments and material to the Coast Guard at the address under ADDRESSES. If you submit them by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit them by mail and would like to know they reached the Coast Guard, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. We may change this rule in view of them.

Regulatory Information

We did not publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for this regulation. Under 5 U.S.C. 553 (b)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing an NPRM. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting an extensive navigation improvement project in Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay, New York and New Jersey. The project, which is being conducted in nine distinct phases, began in April 1999 and will continue through approximately April 2005. In anticipation of the project and its probable impact on navigation, the Coast Guard worked with local pilots and maritime users to develop restrictions on vessels transiting the area during dredging operations. As a result of that cooperative process, we published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register (63 FR 72219) on December 31, 1998, discussing our intention to establish a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) for Kill Van Kull Channel, Newark Bay Channel, South Elizabeth Channel, Elizabeth Channel, Port Newark Channel and New Jersey Pierhead Channel, New York and New Jersey. We received no letters commenting on the proposed rule. No public hearing was requested and none was held. On April 15, 1999, we published a Final Rule in the Federal Register (64 FR 18577) codifying the RNA at 33 CFR 165.165.

Now that dredging operations have begun in the Bergen Point portion of the navigation improvement project, it has become evident that the existing RNA is insufficient to ensure the interests of safe navigation on that portion of the waterway. On May 16, 2002, Kill Van Kull Channel Lighted Buoys 10 and 12 (LLNR 37300 and 37310) and Bergen Point Lighted Buoy 14 (LLNR 37325) had to be relocated to facilitate dredging of the Kill Van Kull. Since these buoys were relocated, the Bergen Point Buoy has been hit and moved off-station requiring Coast Guard assets to be diverted from other safety and security missions in the Port of New York and New Jersey while re-establishing the buoy on-station. More importantly, other vessels have been unable to navigate within the temporary channel boundaries. More than half of the vessels over 700 feet long transiting this area were unable to safely navigate the narrow southern channel during periods of high current and moderate winds. And there have been several near collisions between tugs and barges operating in the area. Unless additional regulations are established for vessels operating in the vicinity of Bergen Point, the likelihood of similar future mishaps will increase as continued dredging operations impinge upon the navigable portion of the channel.

In light of the foregoing, we have determined that immediate action is required to establish additional regulations for vessels operating in the vicinity of Bergen Point while U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging operations continue. These circumstances provide good cause for not publishing an NPRM. Similarly, the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Any delay encountered in this rule's effective date would be unnecessary and contrary to public interest since immediate action is needed to restrict commercial vessel transits in the waterway and protect the maritime public from the hazards associated with changing vessel traffic patterns during this dredging project.

Background and Purpose

The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey commenced an extensive channel-dredging project in the Kill Van Kull in April 1999. On May 16, 2002, Kill Van Kull Channel Lighted Buoys 10 and 12 (LLNR 37300 and 37310) and Bergen Point Lighted Buoy 14 (LLNR 37325) were relocated to facilitate dredging of the Bergen Point West Reach of the Kill Van Kull. Since these buoys were relocated, one vessel collided with the Bergen Point Buoy and moved it off-station requiring Coast Guard assets to be diverted from other safety and security missions in the Port of New York and New Jersey while re-establishing the buoy on its assigned location. More than half of the vessels over 700 feet long transiting this area were unable to safely navigate the narrow southern channel during periods of high current and moderate winds. Instead, they had to depart from the temporary boundaries of the channel and proceed through a portion of the closed area north of the Kill Van Kull Lighted Buoy 10. There have also been several near collisions between tugs and barges in this area. In order to protect life, property and the marine environment, the Coast Guard is establishing the following additional requirements for commercial vessels transiting Bergen Point West Reach of the Kill Van Kull:

Tug Requirements: All vessels 350 feet in length, or greater, excluding tugs with tows, require one assist tug. All vessels 700 feet in length, or greater, excluding tugs with tows, require two assist tugs. All vessels 900 feet in length, or greater, excluding tugs with tows, require three assist tugs.

Tidal Current Restrictions: Vessels 700 feet in length, or greater, are restricted to movements within one hour before or after slack water, as measured from the Bergen Point current station.

Astern Tows: Hawser tows are not permitted unless an assist tug accompanies the tow.

Wind Conditions: In sustained winds from 20 to 34 knots: (1) Cargo ships may not transit; (2) tankers in ballast may not transit; (3) tugs pushing or towing alongside tank barges 350 feet in length, or greater, in light condition, require an assist tug. In sustained winds greater than 34 knots, vessels 300 gross tons or greater and all tugs with tows are prohibited from transiting.

Nearly identical restrictions were imposed during a previous dredging project conducted in the same area from 1991 to 1992. They were instituted after three groundings, which resulted in one oil spill and one channel blockage. In anticipation of the current dredging project, the Coast Guard worked closely with local pilots and commercial waterway users to devise a system of regulations that would reduce the likelihood of similar mishaps from recurring. We sought to determine whether less restrictive regulations could be developed that would adequately ensure the interests of safe navigation. After extensive consultation, computer simulations and other analysis, we concluded that the regulations codified at 33 CFR 165.165 would adequately protect the interests of safe navigation in the vicinity of Bergen Point during the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation improvement project. As previously discussed, recent, actual experience with those regulations demonstrates the need for these additional restrictions on Start Printed Page 42725commercial vessels operating in that area. Vessel Traffic Service New York has already met with Pilots and Tug companies operating in the port to explain the need for these restrictions. These restrictions will be in place until March 30, 2003. They will be cancelled if dredging operations in the vicinity of Bergen Point conclude before that date.

Regulatory Evaluation

This rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of that Order. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under that Order. It is not “significant” under the regulatory policies and procedures of the Department of Transportation (DOT) (44 FR 11040, February 26, 1979).

We expect the economic impact of this rule to be so minimal that a full Regulatory Evaluation under paragraph 10e of the regulatory policies and procedures of DOT is unnecessary. This finding is based on the fact that the overwhelming majority of vessels transiting through the Bergen Point portion of the Kill Van Kull that would be required by this rule to utilize tug assistance are already employing that service as a matter of prudence; only those vessels not observing this “best practice” will be affected. Vessels 700 feet in length, or greater, could encounter slight delays while awaiting optimal tidal currents. Those delays can be mitigated or avoided by appropriate arrival and departure planning. The actual impact of this rule is minimal insofar as each of the provisions of this rule could be imposed, on a case-by-case basis, upon individual vessels transiting through Bergen Point under Vessel Traffic Services New York's existing authority to establish VTS Measures pursuant to 33 CFR 161.11. Rather than rely upon ad hoc measures, we believe that the maritime public is better served by having advance, certain knowledge of these requirements to facilitate ready-reference and planning. Advance notifications will be made to the local maritime community by the Local Notice to Mariners, marine information broadcasts, and at New York Harbor Operations Committee meetings.

Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.

The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule will affect the following entities, some of which might be small entities: the owners or operators of commercial vessels intending to transit Bergen Point West Reach of the Kill Van Kull. This RNA will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons: Kill Van Kull accommodates approximately 26,000 vessels transits annually; the overwhelming majority of vessels that would be required to utilize tug assistance while transiting the Bergen Point portion of the Kill Van Kull are already employing that service as a matter of prudence; only the small percentage of vessels not observing this “best practice” will be affected by this regulation; we know of no specific small entities among that small number. Any small entities that might be affected by this rule are invited to submit comments, which may result in modifications to the rule.

Assistance for Small Entities

Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-121), the Coast Guard wants to assist small entities in understanding this final rule so that they can better evaluate its potential effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. If your small business or organization would be affected by this rule and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please call Lieutenant Commander C. Nichols, Vessel Traffic Service, Coast Guard Activities New York at (718) 354-4191. Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance, with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247).

Collection of Information

This rule would call for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

Federalism

A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct cost of compliance on them. We have analyzed this rule under that Order and have determined that it does not have implications for federalism.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 or more in any one year. Though this rule will not result in such expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

Taking of Private Property

This rule will not affect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.

Civil Justice Reform

This rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Protection of Children

We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and does not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that might disproportionately affect children.

Indian Tribal Governments

This rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. Start Printed Page 42726

Energy Effects

We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use. We have determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that Order because it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. It has not been designated by the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.

Environment

We have considered the environmental impact of this rule and concluded that, under figure 2-1, paragraph 34(g), of Commandant Instruction M16475.1D, this rule is categorically excluded from further environmental documentation. This rule fits paragraph 34(g) as it revises a Regulated Navigation Area. A “Categorical Exclusion Determination” is available in the docket for inspection or copying where indicated under ADDRESSES.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 165 as follows:

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PART 165—REGULATED NAVIGATION AREAS AND LIMITED ACCESS AREAS

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1. The authority citation for part 165 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191, 33 CFR 1.05-1(g), 6.04-1, 6.04-6, 160.5; 49 CFR 1.46.

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2. From June 17, 2002 to March 30, 2003, amend § 165.165 to add paragraph (d)(10) to read as follows:

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Regulated Navigation Area; Kill Van Kull Channel, Newark Bay Channel, South Elizabeth Channel, Elizabeth Channel, Port Newark Channel and New Jersey Pierhead Channel, New York and New Jersey
* * * * *

(d) * * *

(10) Bergen Point West Reach. In addition to the requirements in paragraphs (d)(1) through (d)(9) of this section, the following provisions apply to vessels transiting in or through Work Areas (4) and (5):

(i) Tug requirements. All vessels 350 feet in length, or greater, excluding tugs with tows, require one assist tug. All vessels 700 feet in length, or greater, excluding tugs with tows, require two assist tugs. All vessels 900 feet in length, or greater, excluding tugs with tows, require three assist tugs.

(ii) Tidal current restrictions. Vessels 700 feet in length, or greater, are restricted to movements within one hour before or after slack water, as measured from the Bergen Point current station.

(iii) Astern tows. Hawser tows are not permitted unless an assist tug accompanies the tow.

(iv) Sustained winds from 20 to 34 knots. In sustained winds from 20 to 34 knots:

(A) cargo ships and tankers in ballast may not transit Work Areas (4) and (5);

(B) tugs pushing or towing alongside tank barges 350 feet in length, or greater, in light condition, require an assist tug in Work Areas (4) and (5).

(v) Sustained winds greater than 34 knots. In sustained winds greater than 34 knots, vessels 300 gross tons or greater and all tugs with tows are prohibited from transiting Work Areas (4) and (5).

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Dated: June 17, 2002.

V.S. Crea,

Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, First Coast Guard District.

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[FR Doc. 02-15967 Filed 6-24-02; 8:45 am]

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