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U.S. EPA RELEASES FINAL HUMBOLDT BAY EIS FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

Release Date: 8/4/1995
Contact Information: Arnold Robbins, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1486

  (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has released a final environmental impact statement (EIS) to designate an open ocean disposal site for material dredged from Humboldt Bay.  The dredging is needed to maintain the navigation channels for marine traffic and to sustain economic growth of the Humboldt Bay region.

     "After extensive opportunity for public comment and much deliberation and study by the Agency, we have concluded that disposal at this site will result in minimal impacts upon ocean life," said Alexis Strauss, U.S. EPA regional water management division director.  "The selection of this disposal site is a wonderful example of how people with different priorities can work together to develop plans that protect the environment and sustain economic growth at the same time."  

     Under the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, the U.S. EPA has designated a final disposal site for dredged materials from the Bay.  The Humboldt Open Ocean Disposal Site or HOODS -- one of seven alternatives considered -- was selected as the site for permanent disposal because it is located in deep waters, away from productive fishery areas, and in an area that is already being used for disposal of sediments from the annual maintenance dredging of Humboldt Bay.  HOODS is located on the continental shelf off Humboldt Bay between three and four nautical miles from shore and in 160 to 180 feet of water.

     Comments received by the Agency at two public hearings held on May 22, 1995, and through written correspondence during the public comment period for the draft EIS and draft final rule were generally all supportive of the proposed selection of the HOODS.

     No industrial or municipal waste will be disposed of at the site, and any dredged materials placed there will have been tested and approved for disposal by the U.S. EPA and the Corp of Engineers to ensure that it does not contain chemicals that pose threats to marine life or human health.

     HOODS is expected to have insignificant impact upon fish, birds, marine mammals, and threatened and endangered species.  Similarly, potential impacts to commercial and recreational fishing and military and commercial shipping are expected to be insignificant due to the distance offshore and minimal resource use of this area.

     The open ocean disposal site is necessary to handle the 800,000 cubic yards of dredged materials generated annually from maintenance dredging as well as new work projects in Humboldt Bay.  Other options considered, such as placement of dredged materials in a landfill, would not have had enough capacity to exclusively handle the annual volumes of dredged materials from Humboldt Bay.  On a project-by-project basis, U.S. EPA will consider and encourage the beneficial re-use of all or a portion of the dredged material.  
     
     Comments on the final EIS must be received no later than
September 5, 1995.  They should be sent to:

                    Alexis Strauss, Director
                    Water Management Division
                    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                    75 Hawthorne St. (W-1)
                    San Francisco, CA  94105

     Copies of the final EIS can be viewed at the following
locations:

Humboldt Bay Harbor           Humboldt County Library
Recreation and Conservation   421 I Street District                      
601 Startare Drive      Eureka, CA
Eureka, CA

Arcata City Library           Humboldt State University Library
500 - 7th Street               Arcata, CA
Arcata, CA

EPA Public Information         U.S. Environmental Protection
Reference Unit (PIRU)         Agency - Region 9
Room 2904 (rear)               Library
401 M Street SW               75 Hawthorne Street, 13th Floor
Washington, DC                 San Francisco, CA

     Copies of the final EIS and further information may be
obtained from:

                    Allan Ota
                    Watershed Protection Branch, (W-3)
                    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                    75 Hawthorne St.
                    San Francisco, CA  94105
                    (415) 744-1980

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