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Administrative Permit Requirements

Administrative Permit Requirements


(Note: This blog is an excerpt from EPA/USACE’s Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) concerning sampling control site stations.)

MPRSA Section 103 permits for the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of disposal at an approved ODMDS are issued by USACE SAD district offices.  MPRSA Section 103 applications should be consistent with USACE permitting regulations in 33 CFR Parts 320 to 330.  All information submitted as part of the MPRSA application process should also comply with EPA Ocean Dumping Regulations in 40 CFR Parts 220 to 228.

USACE SAD districts will coordinate all sediment testing plans with EPA Region 4.  Pre-application conferences to prepare appropriate sampling plans are encouraged for all MPRSA Section 103 permit applicants.  Upon receiving all necessary information from the applicant, USACE SAD districts will provide for EPA Region 4 review the complete documentation of the project evaluation conducted under the SAP in the form of a Section 103 evaluation.  This information can be provided prior to, with, or after the Public Notice.  The evaluation reports will be consistent with the information provided in Appendix C and will be accompanied by a Section 103 Sediment Testing Report (Appendix D) and draft permit conditions necessary for implementation of the ODMDS Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP). 

USACE SAD districts are responsible for coordination of all federal actions, including EPA Region 4 concurrences, pertaining to MPRSA Section 103 applications.  The applicant may also need to coordinate activities with the appropriate state regulatory agencies for compliance with Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and the State Coastal Management Program [Coastal Zone Management Act Section 307(c)].  A schedule for coordination is provided in Appendix B.

The permit process is outlined in Figure 2-1 and consists of 10 main steps:

  1. Pre-application Consultation:  Includes discussion of the need for the dredging project and a discussion of alternatives and the qualitative and quantitative information required by the District Engineer for use in evaluating the proposed dredged material.
  2. Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean Disposal:  Includes development, approval, and implementation of the SAP.  This step should include close coordination between EPA Region 4, USACE SAD districts, and the applicant (see Section 2.2).
  3. Permit Application: According to 33 CFR 325.1, a permit application must include the items listed in Table 2-1.
  4. Review of Application for Completeness:
    1. Additional information is requested if the application is incomplete.
      1. Applicant is given the opportunity to respond according to each district’s review schedule.  
  5. Public Notice:  If the application is complete, USACE issues a Public Notice per 33 CFR 325.3.  The notice must include all of the information required in 33 CFR 325.3(a), including the information required by 40 CFR 225.2(a) (see Table 2-2).  A supplemental revised or corrected Public Notice will be issued if the District Engineer believes the new information affects the review of the proposal. 
  6. USACE Section 103 Evaluation:  Either before, with, or after issuance of the Public Notice, USACE’s District Engineer will submit to EPA Region 4 its determination of compliance with criteria (40 CFR 227 and 228) and the basis for that determination in the form of a Section 103 evaluation (see Appendix B).  If the District Engineer or EPA Region 4 does not find the material to be in compliance, the project is modified or the waiver process is initiated (40 CFR 225.3 and 225.4):
    1. Economically feasible alternatives are reviewed.  If an adequate alternative is identified, the decision to deny a permit is discussed in either a Statement of Findings or Record of Decision.
    2. If no alternatives are available, a request for waiver from the Chief of Engineers is applied for.
    3. The EPA Administrator reviews the waiver request and either denies or grants the waiver.
  7. EPA MPRSA Review:  Independent review of the information will be performed to determine whether the disposal activity complies with the criteria found in 40 CFR 227 and 228.  This includes a review of all necessary physical, chemical, and biological tests.  Refer to Table 2-3 for detailed explanations of EPA MPRSA review periods.
  8. USACE Public Interest Review:  USACE must consider all comments, suggestions, and concerns provided by all commenters and incorporate their comments into the administrative record of the application. If the permit is determined to be contrary to the public interest, the decision to deny a permit is discussed in either a Statement of Findings or a Record of Decision.
  9. Other Permits:  If the permit is not contrary to the public interest, review of other required permits needs to be addressed.  If applicable, other application permits from federal and state agencies need to be obtained.
  10. Permit Issued:  A decision to issue a permit is discussed in either a Statement of Findings or a Record of Decision, and a Permit Public Notice with a list of permit decisions is published by USACE.

Table 2-1.  Permit Application Items [33 CFR 325.1]


A complete description of the proposed activity, including necessary drawings, sketches, or plans.


The location, purpose, and need for the proposed activity; scheduling of the activity; names and addresses of adjoining property owners; location and dimension of adjacent structures.


A list of authorizations required by other federal, interstate, state, or local agencies for the work, including all approvals received or denials already made.


The source of the material; the purpose of the disposal and a description of the type, composition, and quantity of the material (this ideally includes information necessary to determine if the material is in compliance with the criteria); the method of transportation and disposal of the material; and the location of the disposal site.


The application should include:  (1) an evaluation of dredged material disposal alternatives, including an examination of potential beneficial uses of the proposed dredged material and a consideration of alternative disposal options before selecting the ocean disposal option (40 CFR Sections 227.14 to 227.16), and (2) documentation of the criteria used as the basis upon which selections or rejections were made.  If prior evaluations are current, reference to them is encouraged.


Include written documentation of the site dredging history, including all results from previous sediment testing (both abiotic and biotic) and a general survey of other prior or current dredging activities at or near the site.  If prior evaluations are current, reference to them is encouraged.


If the ocean disposal application for re-certification of the proposed maintenance dredged material is currently covered or was previously covered under a MPRSA Section 103 disposal permit, the permit number (or Public Notice and date) should be provided.  If more than 3 years have passed since the last evaluation was conducted for the dredge site, or if data are considered to be inadequate, the USACE SAD district, in consultation with EPA Region 4, will assess the need for additional evaluation.


Give detailed information along with written documentation on known or suspected site contamination including oil, chemical, or waste spills and any other discharges that may cause contamination of the proposed dredging site.  The local U.S. Coast Guard and Port Authority offices shall be consulted to obtain additional information on spills or suspected contamination.  Results of the consultation shall be documented as part of the application.  Any chemicals known to contaminate or suspected of contaminating the proposed dredging site must be added to the list of possible COCs (see Section 5.0 of this manual).


Table 2-2.  Public Notice Information* Specific to MPRSA Section 103 Public Notices [33 CFR 325.3(a)(17) and 40 CFR 225.2(a)]


Regulatory Requirement



The location of the proposed disposal site and its physical boundaries

Include the disposal site corner coordinates and center coordinates (latitude and longitude).  Include distance from shore and water depth.  Include disposal zone if applicable.


A statement about whether the disposal site has been designated pursuant to MPRSA Section 102(c)

Include date of designation and/or CFR citation.


If the proposed disposal site has not been designated by the Administrator, a statement of the basis for the proposed determination of why no previously designated site is feasible and a description of the characteristics of the proposed disposal site necessary for its designation pursuant to 40 CFR Part 228

Include a statement as to why an EPA-designated ODMDS is not feasible.  Address the 5 general (40CFR228.5) and 11 specific criteria (40CFR228.6) for the proposed site.  Detailed information is typically provided in a supplemental document such as an Environmental Assessment.


The known historical uses of the proposed disposal site

Provide year site was first used.  Provide volume of material disposed at site (see Ocean Disposal Database:  Include details regarding most recent disposal project (volume, dates, physical characteristics, disposal zone if applicable).


Existence and documented effects of other authorized disposals that have been made in the disposal area (e.g., heavy metal background reading and organic carbon content)

Provide summary of monitoring (bathymetry, physical, chemical, biological) that has been conducted at the ODMDS and the conclusions of the monitoring.  [For example:  there has/has not been mounding at the site; there has been a change in the grain size to a siltier/sandier bottom; there has/has not been a significant change in the taxa/diversity/biomass of macro invertebrates at the site.]


An estimate of the length of time during which disposal would continue at the proposed site

Provide the anticipated date for initiation of disposal activities and the expected duration of disposal activities.


Information on the characteristics and composition of the dredged material

At a minimum, provide results of physical tests.  Also provide results of chemical and biological tests on the dredged material if available.  If EPA Region 4 has concurred on the suitability of the material for ocean disposal, this should be mentioned here.  If additional tests will be conducted, this should be explained as well as how the results will be made available to the public.


A statement concerning a preliminary determination of the need for and/or availability of an Environmental Impact Statement


* Information provided for the Public Notice and other pertinent information will be used by USACE as an aid in determining the suitability of the proposed dredged material for ocean disposal under the criteria defined in 40 CFR  Part 227 (see Appendix C for Section 103 Evaluation Report).  If the data submitted by the applicant are insufficient to evaluate the proposed dredged material and prepare the Section 103 Evaluation Report (Appendix C), USACE SAD district, with the cooperation of EPA Region 4, will request additional information. 


USEPA/USACE.  2008.  Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) for Requirements and Procedures for Evaluation of the Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in South­eastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast Waters. EPA 904-B-08-001. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, Atlanta, GA. 2008.pdf


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