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Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point: Army's Primary East Coast Deepwater Port

MOTSU FILEminimizerMany of us probably don’t think about the importance of dredging in relation to national security and maintaining access to our military bases and terminals.  Maintaining access to navigation basins, access channels, and berthing areas is a critical component in our nation’s ability to accomplish its military and national security mission.  When these waterways and berthing areas become shoaled, the immediate capacity of a facility or base to transport materials and personnel is reduced or delays are incurred until full project capabilities are restored through dredging. 

ANAMAR recently sampled and tested dredge material at the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU), which is one of the largest military terminals in the world.  It is a high-security facility that is constantly patrolled by boats with armed soldiers.  And for good reason—MOTSU is the key ammunition shipping point on the Atlantic coast for the Department of Defense and is the Army's primary east coast deepwater port.  As the world's largest military terminal, Sunny Point ships more explosive cargo and equipment to the nation's armed forces and allies than any other facility.  The mission of the facility is to be prepared to quickly and effectively support the U.S. military and allies through the shipment of munitions, ordnance, or other military materials in response to any global situation or military requirement.  The maintenance of navigation depth at MOTSU is a prerequisite to maintaining a high state of operational preparedness at the facility.

Built in 1951, the terminal serves as a transfer point between rail cars, trucks, and ships during the import or export of weapons, ammunition, explosives, tanks, and military equipment for the U.S. Army.  MOTSU sprawls across 8,600 acres on the west side of the Cape Fear River, near the towns of Boiling Spring Lakes and Southport.  A vast majority of MOTSU’s real estate is longleaf and loblolly pine forest, which provides a barrier between shipping operations and the general public.  To prevent harm to the surrounding community, there is a 2,100-acre buffer zone on Pleasure Island (Carolina, Kure, Wilmington, and Fort Fisher beaches) and a 4,300-acre buffer in Brunswick County.  Despite its isolation, Sunny Point is an impressive facility.  Its three huge docks can handle several ships simultaneously.  Large cranes and 62 miles of tracks within the terminal move military supplies and explosive cargo.  The two most controversial cargoes shipped through the terminal were World War II nerve gas in 1970 and European spent nuclear fuel rods in 1994.


Mims, Bryan.  2015.  Secrets of Sunny Point.  Our State Magazine.  May 26, 2015.  Accessed 01/02/18.

Wikipedia.  Accessed 01/29/18.

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Charleston Harbor Deepening Awaits Approval from Congress

Charleston Harbor Deepening Awaits Approval from Congress


NOTE:  ANAMAR had the privilege of performing MPRSA Section 103 testing of the new work material to be dredged.  This consisted of sediment sampling and analysis, including physical, chemical, and biological (bioaccumulation, bioassay) testing.  Additionally, ANAMAR produced the NEPA document for the necessary expansion of the Charleston ODMDS.

Charleston Harbor is currently in the final pre-construction stage of the deepening process. Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy has signed off on a Record of Decision stating that Charleston has fulfilled all of the pre-construction requirements.  Charleston awaits authorization from Congress to move forward.

Check out this Dredging Today Article to learn more!

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Expansion of the Jacksonville Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site Is Finalized

USACE Jacksonville and EPA Region 4 identified the need to either designate another Jacksonville ODMDS or expand the current 1‑square nautical mile (nmi2) site. ANAMAR was contracted in 2009 to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for this multi-year, multi-faceted site designation project. Congratulations to all the people who worked on this project! The final rule will go into effect on November 13 designating the new 4.56‑nmi2 area.

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Jax Harbor sampling pic 3 FILEminimizer


Jax Sampling pic 1 FILEminimizer
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The following information was taken directly from Appendix C of the SERIM (EPA and USACE 2008; see the reference at the end of the article) and is required for completion of an MPRSA Section 103 evaluation.

Information should not be repeated, but referenced where material is needed for more than one part of the evaluation documentation.

1. Dredging and Disposal Project Information

a.  A map showing dredging locations/boundaries and delineating dredging units. Shall include range stations to adequately delineate project limits

b.  Core boring logs (if available) and other historical and current sampling stations keyed to the map

c.  Volume of material to be dredged by dredging unit

d.  Percentage of fine-, medium-, and coarse-grained material by dredging unit

e.  Bathymetric information for the channel to be dredged with the project dredging depth contour highlighted

f.   Design depth (including overdredge depth or advance maintenance) and width for each dredging unit or project reach

g.  Expected method(s) of dredging, transport, and disposal of material

h.  Expected start, duration and end of dredging, transport, and disposal of material

i.   Proposed disposal location (or zone) within the ODMDS

j.   Historical compliance with ODMDS site designation and SMMP conditions

2. Exclusionary Criteria - 40CFR §227.13(b) [Tier I]

a.  Rationale for meeting the exclusionary criteria (choose one):

i.   The dredged material is composed predominately of sand, gravel, rock, or any other naturally occurring bottom material with particle sizes larger than silt, and the material is found in areas of high current or wave energy

(1)  Grain sizes of the dredged material (from 1d above)

(2)  Current data from current meters or tide gauges (if available)

ii.   The material is substantially the same as the substrate at the disposal site and the dredging site is far removed from sources of pollution so as to provide a reasonable assurance that such material has not been contaminated by such pollution.

(1)  Grain sizes of the dredged material (from 1d above)

(2)  Grain sizes of the material at the disposal site

(3)  Locations to (keyed map), quantities, and types of pollutants discharged upstream of the dredging area (see Section 3.1.1 of the RIM for data sources)

(4)  Results of previous testing in the area demonstrating lack of contamination

b.  If one of the exclusionary criteria is met, items 3 through 6 below need not be addressed.

3. Need for Testing (Tier I)

a.  Site history narrative including potential sources of contamination

b.  Locations (keyed to map), quantities, and types of pollutants discharged upstream of the dredging area (see Section 3.1.1 of the RIM for data sources)

c.  History of dredging in area

d.  Summary of the past physical, chemical, and biological tests including a narrative description of past suitability determinations

e.  Maps showing all past sampling stations (from 1b above)

f.   Description of any events that have occurred since the last sampling or dredging event that might influence sediment chemistry or bioassay results

4. Water Column Determinations - 40CFR §227.6(c)(1) and 227.27(a) and Suspended Particulate Phase Determination - 40 CFR §227.6(c)(2) and 227.27(b) [Tiers II-III]

a.  Evaluation of the Liquid Phase - Water Quality Criteria Choose one of the following:

i.   Sediment Chemistry Screen

(1) Table showing for and analyte: sediment chemistry value, each station estimated elutriate concentration, background concentration, applicable marine water quality criteria or standard, and the required dilution to achieve the criteria/standard

(2) ADDAMS STFATE result (if required) for the contaminate requiring the most dilution

(3) Sediment testing report (or)

ii.   Elutriate Analysis

(1) Table showing for each station and analyte: elutriate concentration, background concentration, applicable marine water quality criteria or standard, and the required dilution to achieve the criteria/standard

(2) ADDAMS STFATE result (if required) for the contaminate requiring the most dilution. Include any special disposal practices (e.g., minimum distances from site boundaries, tidal state, current magnitude/direction) that must be instituted to assure compliance.

(3) Elutriate chemistry testing report

b.  Liquid and Suspended Phase Bioassays

i.   Comparison of 100% dredged material elutriate control and dilution water (if not significantly more toxic, items ii and iii below are not required)

ii.   LC50/EC50 for each station where 100% elutriate is toxic

iii.  ADDAMS STFATE results for station with lowest LC50/EC50. Include any special disposal practices (e.g., minimum distances from site boundaries, tidal state, current magnitude/direction) that must be instituted to assure compliance

iv.  Elutriate bioassay testing report

5. Benthic Screen (optional) [Tier II]

a.  Tier II tests for benthic impact evaluation should be used only to screen out sediments that are not likely to meet the criteria or to assist in selecting a compositing or testing scheme under Tier III.

i.   Theoretical Bioaccumulation Potential (TBP) calculation

ii.   Sediment testing report

6. Benthic Determinations - 40 CFR§227.6(c)(3) and 227.27(b) [Tier III]

a   Benthic Toxicity Evaluation

b.  Benthic Bioavailability Evaluation

i.   28-day bioaccumulation exposure

ii.   Tissue chemical analysis

iii.  Comparison with FDA Action Levels and tissues exposed to the reference and risk-based analysis as required

iv.  Sediment testing report

7. Non-Testing Related Regulatory Issues: Subparts B,C,D and E of 40CFR§227

a.  Subpart B - Environmental Impact

i.   §227.4 Criteria for Evaluating Environmental Impact

ii.   §227.5 Prohibited Materials

iii.  §227.7 Limits established for specific wastes or waste constituents

- address presence of pathogens, biological pests, non-indigenous species

iv.  §227.8 Limitations on the Disposal Rates of Toxic Wastes; §227.11 Containerized Wastes; and §227.12 Insoluble Wastes

v.  §227.9 Limitations on Quantities of Waste Materials

- include project volumes

- provide site capacity if determined

vi.  §227.10 Hazards to Fishing, Navigation, Shorelines, or Beaches -reference appropriate section(s) of the site designation EIS/EA if necessary

b.  Subpart C - Need for Ocean Dumping

i.   For federal projects, provide authorization and reference Feasibility Study or other NEPA document providing assessment of disposal alternatives.

ii.   For non-federal projects, the alternative disposal alternatives should be summarized and assessed. The final determination is made in the USACE Statement of Findings on whether or not to grant the permit.

c.  Subpart D - Impact of the Proposed Dumping on Aesthetic, Recreational, and Economic Values

i.   Reference appropriate section(s) of the site designation EIS/EA to address potential impacts of disposal at the site on recreational fisheries, commercial fisheries, shore recreation, and cultural resources with regard to disposal of dredged material at the site.

ii. Address visible characteristics.

iii. Address presence of toxics and bioaccumulative chemicals (reference 6 above).

iv. Address pathogens (reference 7.a.iii above).

d.  Subpart E - Impact of the Proposed Dumping on other Uses of the Ocean -reference appropriate section(s) of the site designation EIS/EA

8. MPRSA Section 103 Conditions

a.  Requirements (management options) to meet the Ocean Disposal Criteria

i.   Disposal zones or minimum distances from the disposal site boundaries

ii.   Ambient disposal conditions (e.g., current or tidal conditions)

iii.  Limits on disposal vessel size or discharge rates

b.  Requirements necessary to meet site designation conditions

i.   Grain size limitations

ii.   See 40CFR Section 228.15(h)

c.  Requirements necessary to meet the requirements of the disposal site SMMP.

i.   Disposal zones

ii.   Limits on oceanographic conditions for disposal

iii.  Disposal monitoring requirements

iv.  Reporting requirements

d.  All conditions must be implemented through permit conditions or contract specifications for federal projects. The draft permit conditions/contract specification must be included as part of the MPRSA Ocean Disposal Evaluation Documentation. These are typically available from the SMMP.



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.


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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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