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Proposed Rule

Atlantic Ocean off Wallops Island and Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia; Danger Zone

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Start Preamble


United States Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense.


Notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments.


The Corps of Engineers is proposing to amend an existing permanent danger zone in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Wallops Island and Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Flight Facility conducts rocket-launching operations. The proposed amendment is necessary to protect the public from hazards associated with the rocket-launching operations. The proposed amendment would increase the danger zone to a 30 nautical mile sector.


Written comments must be submitted on or before November 10, 2011.


You may submit comments, identified by docket number COE-2011-0019, by any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

E-mail: Include the docket number, COE-2011-0019, in the subject line of the message.

Mail: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: CECW-CO-R (David B. Olson), 441 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20314-1000.

Hand Delivery/Courier: Due to security requirements, we cannot receive comments by hand delivery or courier.

Instructions: Direct your comments to docket number COE-2011-0019. All comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available on-line at, including any personal information provided, unless the commenter indicates that the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI, or otherwise protected, through or e-mail. The web site is an Start Printed Page 62693anonymous access system, which means we will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an e-mail directly to the Corps without going through, your e-mail address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, we recommend that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If we cannot read your comment because of technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, we may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic comments should avoid the use of any special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to All documents in the docket are listed. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, such as CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form.

Start Further Info


Mr. David Olson, Headquarters, Operations and Regulatory Community of Practice, Washington, DC at 202-761-4922, or Nancy Hankins, Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, Regulatory Branch, at 757-201-6048.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information


Pursuant to its authorities in Section 7 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1917 (40 Stat. 266; 33 U.S.C. 1) and Chapter XIX of the Army Appropriations Act of 1919 (40 Stat. 892; 33 U.S.C. 3), the Corps of Engineers is proposing amendments to regulations in 33 CFR Part 334 for a permanent danger zone in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Wallops Island and Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia. The proposed modification of the existing permanent danger zone is necessary to protect the public from hazards associated with rocket-launching operations. The proposed modification expands the danger zone to a 30 nautical mile sector.

Procedural Requirements

a. Review Under Executive Order 12866

This proposed rule is issued with respect to a military function of the Department of Defense and the provisions of Executive Order 12866 do not apply.

b. Review Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act

This proposed rule has been reviewed under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96-354) which requires the preparation of a regulatory flexibility analysis for any regulation that will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities (i.e., small businesses and small governments). Unless information is obtained to the contrary during the public notice comment period, the Corps expects that the amendment of this danger zone would have practically no economic impact on the public, no anticipated navigational hazard, or interference with existing waterway traffic. This proposed rule if adopted, will have no significant economic impact on small entities.

c. Review Under the National Environmental Policy Act

Due to the administrative nature of this action and because there is no intended change in the use of the area, the Corps expects that this regulation, if adopted, will not have a significant impact to the quality of the human environment and, therefore, preparation of an environmental impact statement will not be required. An environmental assessment will be prepared after the public notice period is closed and all comments have been received and considered. It may be reviewed at the District office listed at the end of FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above.

d. Unfunded Mandates Act

This proposed rule does not impose an enforceable duty among the private sector and, therefore, it is not a Federal private sector mandate and it is not subject to the requirements of either Section 202 or Section 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Act. We have also found under Section 203 of the Act, that small governments will not be significantly and uniquely affected by this rulemaking.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 334

End List of Subjects

For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Corps proposes to amend 33 CFR part 334 as follows:

Start Part


1. The authority citation for 33 CFR part 334 continues to read as follows:

Start Authority

Authority: 40 Stat. 266 (33 U.S.C. 1) and 40 Stat. 892 (33 U.S.C. 3).

End Authority

2. Revise § 334.130 to read as follows:

Atlantic Ocean off Wallops Island and Chincoteague Inlet, Va.; danger zone.

(a) The area. An area immediately behind and directly offshore from Wallops Island defined by lines drawn as follows: Beginning at latitude 37°53′00″ N, longitude 75°29′48″ W; thence to latitude 37°53′03″ N, longitude 74°50′52″ W; thence to latitude 37°38′28″ N, longitude 74°51′48″ W; thence to latitude 37°22′00″ N, longitude 75°09′35″ W; thence to latitude 37°19′11″ N, longitude 75°30′00″ W; thence to latitude 37°47′57″ N, longitude 75°32′19″ W; and thence to latitude 37°53′00″ N, longitude 75°29′48″ W.

(b) The regulations. (1) Persons and vessels shall only be prohibited from entering the area when launch operations are being conducted.

(2) In advance of scheduled launch operations which, in the opinion of the enforcing agency, may be dangerous to persons and watercraft, appropriate warnings will be issued to navigation interests through official government and civilian channels or in such other manner as the District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, may direct. Such warnings will specify the location, time, and duration of operations, and give other pertinent information as may be required in the interest of safety. Announcement of area of closure will appear in the weekly “Notice to Mariners.”

(3) The intent to conduct rocket-launching operations in the area shall also be indicated by visual signals consisting of a large orange-colored “blimp-shaped” balloon by day and a rotating alternately red and white beacon by night. The balloon shall be flown at latitude 37°50′38″ N, longitude 75°28′47″ W and the beacon shall be displayed about 200 feet above mean high water at latitude 37°50′16″ N, longitude 75°29′07″ W. The appropriate signals shall be displayed 30 minutes prior to rocket-launching time and shall remain displayed until the danger no longer exists.

(4) In addition to visual signals and prior to conducting launch operations, the area will be patrolled by aircraft or surface vessels and monitored by radars and cameras to ensure no persons or watercraft are within the danger zone or designated area of interest within the danger zone. Patrol aircraft and surface vessels are equipped with marine band radios and may attempt to hail watercraft and request that they leave Start Printed Page 62694the designated area and remain clear of the area at a safe distance until launch operations are complete, and launch will not occur until the designated area is clear. Patrol aircraft may also employ the method of warning known as “buzzing” which consists of low flight by the airplane and repeated opening and closing of the throttle. Surveillance vessels may also come close to watercraft and employ flashing light to establish communications to indicate that the watercraft is entering the designated hazard area.

(5) Any watercraft being so warned shall immediately leave designated area until the conclusion of launch operations, and shall remain at a distance that it will be safe from falling debris.

(6) Nothing in this regulation shall be intended to prevent commercial fishing or the lawful use of approved waterfowl hunting blinds along the shorelines of the Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia, provided that all necessary licenses and permits have been obtained from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Commercial fishermen and waterfowl hunters must observe all warnings and range clearances during hazardous range operations.

(c) Enforcement. The regulations in this section shall be enforced by the Director, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Flight Facility Wallops Island, Va., or such agencies as he or she may designate.

Start Signature

Dated: September 30, 2011.

Michael G. Ensch,

Chief, Operations and Regulatory, Directorate of Civil Works.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2011-26198 Filed 10-7-11; 8:45 am]