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Corps asking for public comment: Ward Cove dock project

Daily News Staff Writer

A comment period started Friday on a permit application from Power Systems & Supplies for the construction of a cruise ship dock in Ward Cove, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Power Systems & Supplies, along with Godspeed Inc., make up the Ward Cove Dock Group. It announced plans for a two-berth, T-shaped dock in early June. The group is working with Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings on the dock project.

The permit is for a 500-foot by 70-foot floating pontoon dock with a trestle that includes a driving lane and walkway, a Corps public notice states.

The notice recognizes the site may be located within a federal superfund site, which is an area with hazardous material contaminations that require a long-term clean-up response. This means the site may be subject to regulations by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 and an Environmental Protection Agency Record of Decision from March 2000 on the area and would need to be reviewed.

"Approximately 53 acres of the contaminated sediments were capped with a thin-layer of sand," the notice reads. "Therefore, the ROD called for institutional controls to be established that would restrict certain uses in Ward Cove, including uses of the site that in any manner could interfere with, materially damage, or adversely affect the integrity or protectiveness of the sediment cap."

As part of public comments, any person can write a request for a public hearing to be held to consider the application. The permit is open to public comment until August 19, 2019.

The notice states that the area is being evaluated in regard to a number of different factors.

The notice says, "Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors."

The project is currently being evaluated by Solstice Alaska Consulting, Inc. regarding its impacts to species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including humpback whales.

The notice states that Ward Cove is designated as an Essential Fish Habitat for five species of Pacific salmon species, as well as herring and halibut.

"We are currently gathering information regarding these species and have yet to make a determination effect," the notice reads. In addition, any comments from the National Marine Fisheries services concerning essential fish habitat will be considered in the final assessment.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Waterways Management Division, is currently conducting a risk assessment for the proposed project.

The stated purpose, according to permit applicant Dave Spokely, is to construct a dock that accommodates larger cruise ships and passengers outside of downtown Ketchikan.

The work required involves installing 48 temporary steel piles that are 30-inches in diameter and 14 permanent 30-inch in diameter piles, 20 permanent 36-inch in diameter piles and 20 permanent 48-inch in diameter piles to "support the floating pontoon dock, mooring structures, and shore-access transfer span and trestle.

"This project is needed to improve safe transit through Tongass Narrows," the project purpose states, and to "provide safe harbor for large cruise ships, and relieve existing and future vessel, pedestrian and vehicle congestion in the Port of Ketchikan and downtown Ketchikan."