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National Environmental Policy Act; Wallops Flight Facility Shoreline Restoration and Infrastructure Protection Program

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


Notice of availability of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) Shoreline Restoration and Infrastructure Protection Program (SRIPP).


Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended, (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508), and NASA's NEPA policy and procedures (14 CFR Part 1216, subpart 1216.3), NASA has prepared and issued the Final PEIS for the proposed SRIPP at WFF. The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have served as Cooperating Agencies in preparing the Final PEIS.

NASA is proposing to implement a fifty-year design-life storm damage reduction project at its WFF on Wallops Island, Virginia. WFF is continuously faced with storm damage resulting in the implementation of emergency repairs. The project would be conducted to reduce the need for these emergency repairs and the potential for storm-induced physical damage to the over $1 billion in Federal and State assets on Wallops Island. The Final PEIS examines in detail three project action alternatives, each expected to provide substantial damage reduction from storms with intensities ranging up to approximately the 100-year return interval storm. Although some reduction in flooding can be expected under each alternative, the primary purpose of the proposal is not flood protection, rather it is moving destructive wave energy further away from the Wallops Island shoreline and the infrastructure behind it.

Alternative One, NASA's preferred alternative, would include extending the existing Wallops Island seawall up to a maximum of 1,400 meters (m) (4,600 feet [ft]) south and placing an estimated 2.5 million cubic meters (MCM) (3.2 million cubic yards [MCY]) along the shoreline. Alternative Two would include the same seawall extension as Alternative One; however the sand placed along the shoreline would be less at approximately 2.2 MCM (2.9 MCY). Under this alternative, NASA would also construct a groin perpendicular to the shoreline at the south end of the project site to limit the volume of nearshore sand being transported from the restored Wallops Island beach to the south. Alternative Three would entail the same seawall extension as in Alternatives One and Two; however sand placement would be the least of the Alternatives at approximately 2.1 MCM (2.8 MCY). NASA would construct a single detached breakwater parallel to the shoreline at the south end of the project site to retain sand under Alternative Three. Under all three project alternatives, NASA would obtain the sand required for its initial beach nourishment from an unnamed shoal (referred to as Shoal A) located in Federal waters approximately 23 kilometers (km) (14 miles [mi]) east of Wallops Island. Sand for an expected nine future renourishment cycles could Start Printed Page 66801come from either Shoal A or a second offshore shoal in Federal waters referred to as Shoal B, approximately 31 km (19 mi) east of the project site. Additionally, NASA is considering transporting sand that accumulates on north Wallops Island to supplement its future renourishment needs (commonly known as “backpassing”). It is estimated that up to half of the required renourishment volumes could be obtained from “backpassing.” The No Action Alternative is to not implement the WFF SRIPP, but to continue making emergency repairs to the existing Wallops Island seawall and infrastructure, as necessary.


NASA will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) for the proposed SRIPP based on the Final PEIS no sooner than 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Notice of Availability of the Final PEIS.


The Final PEIS may be reviewed at the following locations:

(a) Chincoteague Island Library, 4077 Main Street, Chincoteague, Virginia 23336 (757-336-3460).

(b) Eastern Shore Public Library, 23610 Front Street, Accomac, Virginia 23301 (757-787-3400).

(c) Northampton Free Library, 7745 Seaside Road, Nassawadox, Virginia 23413 (757-414-0010).

(d) NASA Wallops Flight Facility Technical Library, Building E-105, Wallops Island, Virginia 23337 (757-824-1065).

(e) NASA Headquarters Library, Room 1J20, 300 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20546-0001 (202-358-0168).

A limited number of hard copies of the Final PEIS are available, on a first request basis, by contacting Joshua Bundick, NASA WFF, Environmental Office, Code 250.W, Wallops Island, Virginia 23337; telephone 757-824-2319; or electronic mail at

The Final SRIPP PEIS is available on the Internet in Adobe® portable document format at​code250/​shoreline_​eis.html. NASA's ROD will be made available, once issued, on the same Web site as above and by request to the contact provided above.

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Additional information on the WFF SRIPP can be obtained by addressing an e-mail to or by mailing to 250/NEPA Manager, WFF Shoreline Restoration and Infrastructure Protection Program, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia 23337. Additional information about the WFF SRIPP and NASA's NEPA process may be found on the internet at​code250/​shoreline_​eis.html.

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The Final PEIS addresses the environmental impacts associated with NASA's proposed implementation of a 50-year design-life storm damage reduction program along the shoreline of Wallops Island. The environmental impacts of principal concern are those that could result from dredging sand from offshore shoals, removing sand from north Wallops Island, and from the construction of a sand retention structure at the south end of the project site.

The three action alternatives considered in the Final PEIS would all provide the facilities on Wallops Island equal levels of storm damage reduction for the duration of the program. Each alternative would involve the establishment of an approximately 34 m (110 ft) wide dry beach along approximately 6,000 m (19,700 ft) of the Wallops Island shoreline to serve as a primary line of defense from destructive storm waves. In addition to the beach, a sand dune would be created to cover the ocean side of the existing and proposed seawall. The remaining portion of the fill would be placed underwater and would gradually slope to the east. It is expected that the fill alone would provide considerable damage reduction from a 30-year return interval storm. With the fill combined with the rock seawall, the project would provide substantial infrastructure damage reduction from up to an approximately 100-year return interval storm. A rock sand retention structure (a groin or breakwater) is included under Alternatives Two and Three, respectively, to slow the transport of sand from the project site and potentially reduce the amount of beach fill needed both initially and throughout the lifecycle of the project.

All three alternatives would involve an initial construction phase and future follow-on maintenance cycles. The initial construction phase would likely include three distinct elements spanning three fiscal years:

Year 1 Activities—The existing rock seawall would be extended approximately 400 m (1,315 ft) south. Additional lengthening (up to the 1,400 m [4,600 ft] total length) would be accomplished in future years as funding becomes available.

Year 2 Activities—Approximately one third of the sand necessary for beach nourishment would be placed along the Wallops Island shoreline. Work would likely begin at the south end of the project site and would gradually move north. Sand placement would involve removing sand from Shoal A by hopper dredges and pumping the material onto the beach.

Year 3 Activities—The remaining sand needed to complete the beach nourishment would be placed along the Wallops Island shoreline. Additionally, under Alternatives Two and Three, the sand retention structure would be constructed.

Subsequent beach renourishment cycles would vary throughout the lifecycle of the proposed project. Factors dictating the frequency and magnitude of such actions would include project performance as revealed through ongoing monitoring, storm severity and frequency, and availability of funding. For each of the action alternatives considered in the PEIS, the renourishment cycle is anticipated to be every five years, totaling nine cycles over the fifty year design life of the project.

In addition to the construction activities outlined for each of the three action alternatives, NASA would implement a rigorous monitoring program that would begin with construction in Year 1 and continue throughout the project. The intent of the monitoring program is to measure the performance of the project, and through adaptive management, make informed decisions regarding the need for renourishment, sand retention structures, and future storm damage reduction measures.

Despite the programmatic nature of the PEIS, NASA included detailed information on the three action alternatives that it is considering for the SRIPP. Given the severity of shoreline erosion at Wallops Island and WFF's vulnerability to storms, it is imperative that a storm damage reduction project be implemented as soon as possible. As a result, this PEIS includes such detail as structure dimensions and locations so that the selected alternative could be implemented and permitted without the need for additional NEPA documentation. In addition to structure dimensions and locations, this information includes beach fill volumes, dredging locations, and dredging operations. Proposed sand retention structures have been modeled and potential impacts evaluated at specific locations within the project area based on current conditions at Wallops Island. Utilizing an adaptive management approach, NASA would evaluate future actions that may include variations of the alternatives evaluated in the PEIS. Start Printed Page 66802Given the dynamic nature of the ocean environment, and that exact locations and magnitude of renourishment cycles may fluctuate, additional NEPA documentation for subsequent actions may be prepared in the future, as appropriate.

NASA published a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft SRIPP Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on February 26, 2010 (75 FR 8997). NASA mailed over 125 hard copies and/or compact disks (CDs) of the Draft PEIS to potentially interested Federal, State, and local agencies; organizations; and individuals. In addition, the Draft PEIS was made publicly available in electronic format on NASA's Web site. The public review and comment period for the Draft PEIS closed on April 19, 2010. NASA received a total of 12 submissions (letters and e-mails) from Federal, State, and local agencies; organizations; individuals; and its Independent Technical Review team. The resulting 315 individual comments received spanned a broad range of topics; however the majority of commentors expressed concern regarding effects of the project on wildlife, fisheries, and sediment transport. The comments are addressed in the Final PEIS in Appendix N. NASA also formally consulted with resource agencies regarding potential effects of the program on Federally threatened and endangered species, Essential Fish Habitat, cultural and historic resources, and coastal resources. The outcomes of these consultations are summarized in the Final PEIS and are also included as appendices.

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Olga M. Dominguez,

Assistant Administrator for Strategic Infrastructure.

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[FR Doc. 2010-27354 Filed 10-28-10; 8:45 am]