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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Notice of availability and request for comments.
This notice informs the public of the availability of a guidance document containing information on national environmentally-based best management practices for preparation of vessels to be sunk with the intention of creating artificial reefs. This notice of availability commences a 60-day public comment period on the guidance document. The guidance satisfies the mandate of section 3516 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. The guidance was also developed in response to the Maritime Administration's (MARAD) request for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist in identifying potential management options for their decommissioned vessel fleet. The EPA is requesting public comment on this document.
EPA will accept comments on the Draft National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs received on or before October 1, 2004.
Comments may be submitted electronically, by mail or through hand-delivery/courier. Follow the detailed instructions as provided in Section I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section. Electronic files may be e-mailed to: OW-Docket@epa.gov. Comments may also be mailed to the Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code: 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket ID No. OW-2004-0003. Instructions for couriers and other hand delivery are provided in Section I.C.3. The Agency will not accept facsimiles (faxes).Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Laura S. Johnson, Marine Pollution Control Branch (4504T), U.S. EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460; (202) 566-1273; firstname.lastname@example.org.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
I. General Information
A. Interested Entities
Entities potentially interested in today's notice are those who want to transfer their vessel for reefing, have the capacity to prepare a vessel for reefing, wish to undertake a vessel-to-reef project, or are responsible for managing an artificial reef. Categories and entities interested in today's notice include.
|Category||Examples of interested entities|
|Federal Government||Maritime Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.|
|State/Local/Tribal Government||Governments owning or responsible for artificial reef preparation, placement, and management; coastal communities.|
|Start Printed Page 46142|
|Industry and General Public||Shipyards, salvage companies, recreational fishing and scuba diving interests, environmental interest groups.|
This table is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be interested in this notice. This table lists the types of entities that EPA is now aware could potentially be interested in this notice. Other types of entities not listed in the table could also be interested.
B. How Can I Get Copies of This Document and Other Related Information?
1. Guidance Document Electronic Access. To obtain a copy of the guidance document entitled “Draft National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs,” please access our Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/habitat/artificialreefs under “Recent Additions.”
2. Federal Register Docket. EPA has established a public docket for this notice under Docket ID No. OW-2004-0003. The public docket consists of the documents specifically referenced in this notice and other information related to this notice. The public docket does not include information claimed as Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. The public docket is available for public viewing at the Water Docket in the EPA Docket Center, (EPA/DC) EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the Water Docket is (202) 566-2426. To view these materials, we encourage you to call ahead to schedule an appointment. Every user is entitled to copy 266 pages per day before incurring a charge. The docket may charge 15 cents a page for each page over the 266-page limit plus an administrative fee of $25.00.
3. Federal Register Electronic Access. You may access this Federal Register document electronically through the EPA Internet under the “Federal Register” listings at: http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/.
An electronic version of the public docket is available through EPA's electronic public docket and comment system, EPA Dockets. You may use EPA Dockets at http://www.epa.gov/edocket/ to submit or view comments, access the index listing of the contents of the public docket, and access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “Search,” then key in the appropriate docket identification number.
Certain types of information will not be placed in EPA Dockets. Information claimed as CBI and other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute will not be available for public viewing in EPA's electronic public docket. Copyrighted material will not be placed in EPA's electronic public docket, but will be available only in printed, paper form in the public docket. To the extent feasible, publicly available docket materials will be made available in EPA's electronic public docket. When a document is selected from the index list in EPA Dockets, the system will identify whether the document is available for viewing in EPA's electronic public docket. Although not all docket materials may be available electronically, you may still access any of the publicly available docket materials through the docket facility identified in Section I.B.2.
For public commenters, it is important to note that comments, whether submitted electronically or on paper, will be made available for public viewing in EPA's electronic public docket as EPA receives them and without change, unless the comments contain copyrighted material, information claimed as CBI, or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. When EPA identifies comments containing copyrighted material, EPA will provide a reference to that material in the version of the comments that is placed in EPA's electronic public docket. The entire comment, including the copyrighted material, will be available in the public docket.
Comments submitted on computer disks that are mailed or delivered to the docket will be transferred to EPA's electronic public docket. Comments that are mailed or delivered to the docket will be scanned and placed in EPA's electronic public docket. Where practical, physical objects will be photographed, and the photograph will be placed in EPA's electronic public docket along with a brief description written by the docket staff.
C. How and To Whom Do I Submit My Comments?
You may submit comments electronically, by mail, or through hand delivery/courier. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, identify the appropriate docket identification number in the subject line on the first page of your comments. Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the specified time period. Comments received after the close of the stated time period will be marked “Late.” EPA might not be able to consider late submittals. If you wish to submit information claimed as CBI or information that is otherwise protected by statute, please follow the instructions in Section I.D. Do not use EPA Dockets or e-mail to submit information claimed as CBI or information protected by statute.
1. Electronically. If you submit electronic comments as prescribed below, EPA recommends that you include your name, mailing address, and an e-mail address or other contact information in the body of your comments. Also include this contact information on the outside of any disk or CD-ROM you submit, and in any cover letter accompanying the disk or CD-ROM. This ensures that you can be identified as the submitter of the comments and allows EPA to contact you in case EPA cannot read your comments due to technical difficulties or needs further information on the substance of your comments. EPA will not edit your comments, and any identifying or contact information provided in the body of a comment will be included as part of the comments that are placed in the public docket, and made available in EPA's electronic public docket. If EPA cannot read your comments due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comments.
i. EPA Dockets. Your use of EPA's electronic public docket to submit comments to EPA electronically is EPA's preferred method for receiving comments. Go directly to EPA Dockets at http://www.epa.gov/edocket and follow the online instructions for submitting comments. To access EPA's electronic public docket from the EPA Internet Home Page, select “Information Sources,” “Dockets,” and “EPA Dockets.” Once in the system, select “Search,” and then key in Docket ID No. OW-2004-0003. The system is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity, e-mail address, or other contact Start Printed Page 46143information unless you provide it in the body of your information.
ii. E-mail. Comments may be sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to: OW-Docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket ID No. OW-2004-0003. In contrast to EPA's electronic public docket, EPA's e-mail system is not an “anonymous access” system. If you send an e-mail comment directly to the Docket without going through EPA's electronic public docket, EPA's e-mail system automatically captures your e-mail address. E-mail addresses that are automatically captured by EPA's e-mail system are included as part of the comments that are placed in the public docket, and made available in EPA's electronic public docket.
iii. Disk or CD-ROM. You may submit comments on a disk or CD-ROM that you mail to the mailing address identified in Section I.C.2. These electronic submissions will be accepted in WordPerfect, or ASCII file format. Avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption.
2. By Mail. Send an original and three copies of all comments, enclosures, or references, to the Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode MC-4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket ID No. OW-2004-0003.
3. By Hand Delivery or Courier. Deliver your comments to: EPA Docket Center, (EPA/DC) EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20004, Attention Docket ID No. OW-2004-0003. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation as identified in Section I.B.2.
D. How Should I Submit CBI to the Agency?
Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI electronically to the EPA Docket Center or through EPA's electronic public docket or by e-mail. Send or deliver information identified as CBI only to the following address: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode 4504 T, Preparation of Vessels Intended to be Artificial Reefs, 1301 Constitution Ave, NW., Room 7114, EPA West Building, Washington, DC 20004. You may claim information that you submit to EPA as CBI by marking that information CBI (if you submit CBI on disk or CD-ROM, indicate on the outside of the disk or CD-ROM that it contains information claimed as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the specific information that is CBI). Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.
In addition to one complete version of the comment that includes any information claimed as CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket and EPA's electronic public docket. If you use a disk or CD-ROM, mark the outside of the disk or CD-ROM clearly to indicate that it does not contain CBI. Information not marked as CBI will be included in the public docket and EPA's electronic public docket without prior notice. If you have any questions about CBI or the procedures for claiming CBI, please consult one of the persons identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.
E. What Should I Consider as I Prepare My Comments for EPA?
You may find these suggestions helpful for preparing your comments:
1. Explain your comments as clearly as possible.
2. Describe any assumptions that you used.
3. Provide any technical information and/or data you used that supports your comments.
4. Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns.
5. Offer alternatives.
6. Make sure to submit your comments by the deadline identified.
7. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, identify the appropriate docket identification number in the subject line on the first page of your response. It would also be helpful if you provided the name, date, and Federal Register citation related to your comments.
II. Background and Today's Action
Options for managing obsolete and decommissioned military and commercial vessels include re-use of the vessel or parts of the vessel, recycling or scrapping, creating artificial reefs, and disposal on land or at sea. The guidance document made available today addresses one of these management options—artificial reef creation—with the intent of promoting a consistent, national approach.
An interagency workgroup, chaired by EPA, was established to develop national environmentally-based best management practices (BMPs) for the preparation of vessels to be sunk with the intention of creating artificial reefs. The workgroup was comprised of representatives from the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Maritime Administration (MARAD), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Workgroup members assisted in the drafting of various sections of the document.
This guidance is required by section 3516 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Act), which amends existing law to require that MARAD and EPA jointly develop guidance recommending environmental BMPs to be used in the preparation of vessels for use as artificial reefs. These BMPs are to serve as national guidance for Federal agencies for the preparation of vessels for use as artificial reefs. The Act provides that the BMPs are to (A) ensure that vessels prepared for use as artificial reefs “will be environmentally sound in their use as artificial reefs,” (B) “promote consistent use of such practices nationwide,” (C) “provide a basis for estimating the costs associated with the preparation of vessels for use as artificial reefs,” and (D) include measures that will “enhance the utility of the Artificial Reefing Program of the Maritime Administration as an option for the disposal of obsolete vessels.”
The guidance identifies materials or categories of materials of concern that may be present aboard vessels, indicates where these materials may be found, and describes their potential adverse impacts if released into the marine environment. The materials of concern include: fuels and oil, asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), paints, debris (e.g., vessel debris, floatables, introduced material), and other materials of environmental concern (e.g., mercury, refrigerants). Because the BMPs described in the guidance are directed at the environmental concerns associated with using vessels as artificial reefs, other sources of information should also be used with regard to preparation of the vessel from a diver safety perspective or for any other potential in-water uses (e.g., breakwaters or other types of barriers).
For each material or category of material of concern identified above, the guidance provides a general performance clean-up goal and information on methods for attaining those clean-up goals in preparation of the vessel prior to sinking. The guidance also includes a description of each material of concern's shipboard use and where it may be found on a vessel, as well as its expected impacts if released into the marine environment.
The guidance describes guidelines for the preparation of vessels in a manner that are intended to ensure that the marine environment will benefit from Start Printed Page 46144their use as an artificial reef. Because strategic siting is an essential component of a successful artificial reef project, the guidance also discusses reef siting.Start Signature
Dated: July 20, 2004.
Benjamin H. Grumbles,
Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Water.
[FR Doc. 04-17502 Filed 7-30-04; 8:45 am]
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