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Appendix E – Port of Oakland – Berths 55-58 and FISCO Disposal and Reuse Projects

Mode Marine, Rail, Highway
Ownership Public Authority
Commodity Type Intermodal Containers
Location Urban, West
Lead Federal Agency COE, U.S. Navy
Cooperating Agencies none
Review Agencies FHWA, FWS, NMFS, EPA, Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), State Lands Commission.

Environmental Issues:
Air Quality Major Issue
Cultural Resources Issue
Land Use Issue
Local Transportation Major Issue
Natural Resources Major Issue
Noise/vibration Issue
Hazardous Waste No Issue
Socioeconomics No Issue
Water Quality Major Issue

Environmental Review Process:
NEPA, including agency consultation Major Issue
Use of structured process No Issue
Integration of NEPA and state processes Issue
Timing of environmental review initiation Issue
Effect of process on project design and alternatives No Issue
Multi-agency review Issue
Public involvement Issue

Project Description

While these two NEPA actions are legally separate, for practical purposes they represent two elements of the same physical project. The Port of Oakland is expanding its facilities by adding four additional containership berths and one tug berth through widening and deepening of the existing inner harbor channel, bank excavation, fill land reclamation, and wharf construction. The project also involves realignment of Seventh Street and construction of a short access road in order to handle additional traffic anticipated as a result of the project. Additionally, the project includes substantial demolition and reconstruction (containment dike construction and land fill) of a former U.S. Navy facility (the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, Oakland, or "FISCO") in the adjacent Middle Harbor, with conversion of the FISCO facility into container handling facilities, the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and associated promenades, and restoration of natural habitat. The overall project site covers approximately 250 acres of the former FISCO, approximately 105 acres of the Union Pacific (UP) Railyard, and 118 acres of water area. The Berths 55-58 Project and FISCO Disposal and Reuse Project are independent from, but associated with, the Oakland Harbor Navigation Improvement Project, which will further deepen some of the berths and channels from the 42 feet envisioned in this project to 50 feet, and will include additional restoration of natural habitats.

Environmental Issues of Concern

Cultural Resources: The extensive demolition and reconstruction of a former Navy base raised questions concerning historical resources. The FISCO complex was found to have some historical significance. In agreement with the State Historical Preservation Officer (SHPO), the facility's historic training walls were incorporated into the new park as jetties, historic pilings will be left in place as a historic exhibit, and materials from demolished buildings will be reused.

Natural Resources, Wetlands, and Water Quality: The construction of the facility threatens potential feeding areas for the California Least Tern and nesting areas for the Brown Pelican. The FWS was responsible for these habitat issues, which fell under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Act, respectively. Light pollution mitigation will be undertaken, and container gantry cranes will be regularly inspected to insure they are not providing roosting/nesting habitats for predatory raptors. There was additional concern about potential impacts to eelgrass beds, although this was found to be mitigable through offsetting plantings and sediment restoration in the Middle Harbor.

Dredging and dike reconstruction are required for the facility, for which the Army Corps of Engineers has provided the required permits. The fill has not been found to be contaminated. The project was designed to create 30 new acres of port terminal area and 5 acres of new parkland, without involving any net fill increase in the Bay (this is possible through channel widening along the berths). A strong mitigation plan will prevent significant adverse localized effects except on one small eelgrass bed.

Ballast water discharge concerns by NMFS resulted in a Biological Opinion of possible adverse effects (nonindigenous species invasion) on several fish species from ballast water discharge increases associated with additional maritime traffic. NMFS negotiated with the Port regarding reasonable and prudent measures to mitigate the impact, which in the end did require the Port of Oakland to enter into an MOU with NMFS. As a result, the Port will contribute $200,000 over four years (NMFS originally requested $2 million) to aid in the development and implementation of the State's ballast water monitoring and treatment program.

Air Quality, Local Transportation, Noise/Vibration, and Public Involvement: Residents originally voiced concerns over air quality, noise and vibration, and increased truck and rail traffic. A lawsuit focused primarily on the air quality issues had been filed in October 1997 (in response to the FISCO EIS), but was settled through a Consent Decree in less than four months. Both prior to the litigation and as a result thereof, the Port worked extensively with the community to develop a range of mitigation and enhancement actions. For example, $660,000 was transferred from the Port to AC Transit (the local transit agency) for bus engine retrofitting, and some maritime terminal equipment will be retrofitted with emissions control devices. In total, $9,000,000 will be spent on the Port's Air Quality Mitigation Program. In addition, as described above, the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and associated promenades were incorporated into the project at a very early date in response to community requests. While the nearest community (West Oakland) is minority and low-income, they were found to be subject to no significant and disproportionate adverse impacts. Public sentiment has shifted to widespread local support for the project.

Environmental Review Process

NEPA, agency consultation: The Army Corps of Engineers recently completed the Environmental Assessment of the project, having issued its Public Notice for comments regarding the Section 404 permit for the project on September 1, 1999. A Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) was made, and therefore no Environmental Impact Statement was found warranted for the Berths 55-58 Project (a state EIR was completed). The FISCO Disposal and Reuse Project had its FEIS/EIR completed in July 1997. On the basis of CEQA criteria, the Reduced Harbor Fill Alternative was found to be the environmentally superior reuse alternative, and was selected as the preferred alternative. A FEIR/EIS/FS was also completed for the adjacent Harbor Navigation Project. Although the Corps and Navy have been the official lead agencies for the project, the Port has effectively taken a lead role in much of the effort and has carried out the planning of the facility on behalf of the Corps and Navy. The Corps has also issued a Section 404 permit, following the November 29 signing of the endangered species consultation by NMFS.

Multi-Agency Review: The Corps had initiated a joint consultation for the Berths 55-58 Project and Harbor Navigation Project in June 1999, which FWS agreed to, but NMFS requested that the consultations be separated. The Corps, because of staff constraints, did not reinitiate the consultation with NMFS until September 27, 1999. While NMFS did commence their work on their biological opinion prior to the formal reinitiation, their own staff constraints resulted in the opinion not being completed until mid-November. This process resulted in an MOU between the Port of Oakland and NMFS, in which the Port agreed to help fund a state study and effort to minimize the potential impacts of nonindigenous species introduction from ballast water discharge.

Integration of NEPA and state processes: The NEPA and California environmental review requirements include review roles for several state agencies. In particular, the State Lands Commission and the Regional Water Quality Control Board were responsible for issuing permits regarding fill and water quality issues, respectively. Furthermore, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission holds authority over all projects impacting San Francisco Bay, and undertook its own comprehensive review of the project prior to issuance of its permit. Early coordination and consultation by the Port with each of these entities facilitated the project's progress.

The Port Authority completed a Section 106 historical review process for the former FISCO facility, and arranged for a combination of illustrative preservation and adaptive reuse to mitigate the extensive demolition. Arrangements for conversion of the FISCO Navy facility and property transfer have been made with relatively little difficulty with the completion of the FEIS/EIR, as well as certain facilitating legislation that simplified the property transfer.

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