The Galveston Engineer District will hold the first of four planned virtual scoping meetings June 9 for the forthcoming Port of Corpus Christi Channel Deepening Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Additional meetings will be held June 11, 16 and 18.
The Port of Corpus Christi Authority has proposed deepening a portion of its ship channel to more than 70 feet. The proposal is in addition to the already-in-progress Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project, which is increasing the entire channel to a depth of -54 feet MLLW (mean lower low water) and a width of 530 feet.
The deeper portion covered in the forthcoming EIS will stretch from beyond the terminus of the ship channel in the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast side of Harbor Island. In order to accommodate fully laden very large crude carriers (VLCCs), which typically draw 70 feet, the proposal would deepen that portion of the channel to -75 feet MLLW, with an additional two feet of advanced maintenance and two feet of allowable overdredge, for a maximum depth of 79 feet. The approximate length of the project would be 13.8 miles, covering 1,778 acres and creating about 46 million cubic yards of dredged material.
The plan would also expand the existing turning basin at Harbor Island “as necessary to accommodate VLCC turning, which includes construction of a flare transition from the [ship channel] within Aransas to meet the turning basin expansion,” according to the notice from the Galveston District. Additionally, the project would potentially include the beneficial use of dredged material in and around Corpus Christi and Redfish bays, on San Jose Island for dune restoration, and on San Jose and Mustang islands for feeder berms for beach restoration.
According to the proposal from the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, the project is necessitated by a boom in crude oil delivered to the port via pipeline from the Eagle Ford and Permian basins. Crude exports from the Port of Corpus Christi grew from 280,000 barrels per day in 2017 to 1.65 million barrels per day at the start of 2020. Forecasts anticipate that number increasing to 4.5 million barrels per day by 2030.
Partners with the Corps for the EIS include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
A draft EIS is expected around the spring of 2021.
Due to social distancing measures in place due to COVID-19, the Corps of Engineers will host all four scoping meetings online beginning at 4 p.m. each day. To register for one of the meetings, submit comments, view the live broadcast or participate by phone, go online to publicinput.com/PCCA-Channel-EIS.
Anyone attending the virtual scoping meetings may submit written comments by email at PCCA-channel-EIS@publicinput.com or by text or voicemail at 855-680-0455.
Beyond the June scoping meetings, the Corps will receive comments through July 3. Written comments submitted by mail should be addressed to Mr. Jayson Hudson, USACE Galveston District, Regulatory Branch, P.O. Box 1229, Galveston, Texas 77553-1229. Emailed comments should be sent to SWG201900067@usace.army.mil. Emailed comments should be in .doc, .docx, .pdf or .txt formats.