Public Notice


Published March 12, 2019
Expiration date: 3/12/2019



US Army Corps Of Engineers

Wilmington District

Issue Date: March 12, 2019

Comment Deadline: April 11, 2019

Corps Action ID Number: SAW-2019-00389

The Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers (Corps) received an application from Duke Energy seeking Department of the Army authorization to discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, associated with the construction of the Cape Fear Plant 1985 Basin Haul Road Project, a new haul road between the existing coal ashbasins and a proposed staged turbulent air reactor (STAR) coal ash processing facility in Chatham County, North Carolina.

Specific plans and location information are described below and shown on the attached plans. This Public Notice and all attached plans are also available on the Wilmington District Web Site at

Applicant: Duke Energy

Mr. Steve Cahoon

411 Fayetteville Street

Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

Agent: Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.

Mr. Richard Harmon

4021 Stirrup Creek Drive, Suite 100

Durham, North Carolina 27703


The Corps evaluates this application and decides whether to issue, conditionally issue, or deny the proposed work pursuant to applicable procedures of the following Statutory Authorities:

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344)


Location Description: The site is located approximately 2000 feet west of the Corinth Road, Dickens Farm Road intersection in Chatham County, North Carolina and is identified as the Duke Energy Cape Fear Plant 1985 Basin Haul Road Project.

Project Area (acres): 55 (approximately)

Nearest Town: Moncure

Nearest Waterway: Shaddox Creek

River Basin: Upper Cape Fear (03030004) and Haw (03030002)

Latitude and Longitude: 35.589387N, -79.036392W

Existing Site Conditions

The project area is located in the Cape Fear watershed (HUCs 03030002 and 03030004) and includes wetlands adjacent to the Cape Fear River. Total wetland acreage within the project area is less than approximately 2 acres. The project area also includes approximately 50 acres of uplands. It does not include any streams or open water areas. A susbstantial amount of the surrrounding area, owned by Duke Energy is classified as wetland. The wetland proposed for impacts is identified as Wetland HH and totals 56.21 acres, extending outside of the proposed project area.

The Water Quality Classification for the closest segment of the Cape Fear River is WS-IV and NSW (Nutrient Sensitive Waters). WS-IV refers to waters used as sources of water supply for drinking, culinary or food processing purposes where a WS-I, WS-II or WS-III classification is not feasible. These waters are also protected for Class C uses. WS-IV waters are generally in moderately to highly developed watersheds or Protected Areas. Class C (C) refers to waters protected for uses such as secondary recreation, fishing, wildlife, fish consumption, aquatic life including propagation, survival and maintenance of biological integrity, and agriculture. Secondary recreation includes wading, boating, and other uses involving human body contact with water where such activities take place in an infrequent, unorganized, or incidental manner. NSW is a supplemental classification intended for waters needing additional nutrient management due to being subject to excessive growth of microscopic or macroscopic vegetation

The North Carolina Wetland Assessment Method (NCWAM) was used to assess the functions and values of the wetland area proposed for impacts. The NCWAM wetland type for the project site wetlands, is Bottomland Hardwood Forest. For the 1.82 acre of wetland HH proposed for impacts, 1.65 acre had an overall NCWAM rating of high and 0.17 acre had an overall NCWAM rating of low.

Land use within the proposed project area is predominantly forested. The forested upland terrestrial communities within the 1985 Basin Haul Road Project area includes upland hardwood forest and/or mixed pine-hardwood upland forest. The canopy stratum of the upland hardwood forest includes sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), red maple (Acer rubrum), willow oak (Quercus phellos), water oak (Quercus nigra), yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and sugarberry (Celtis laevigata). The shrub stratum consists of American holly (Ilex opaca), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), blueberry (Vaccinium sp,), and saplings of red maple and sweetgum. The groundstory vegetation comprises common greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia), muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), and hardwood seedlings. The mixed pine-hardwood upland forest includes plant species that are common to the upland hardwood forest, with the addition of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) in the canopy and midstory. The herbaceous areas essentially encompass the electrical power transmission line corridor that is located along the southern side of Corinth Road, along the northern portions of the Project area. The vegetation consists of a moderate assemblage of species, including lespedeza (Lespedeza sp.), blackberry (Rubus sp.), dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), panic grasses (Panicum spp.), partridge-pea (Chamaecrista sp.), rattlebox (Sesbania sp.), thoroughwort (Eupatorium sp.), vervain (Verbena sp.), and croton (Croton sp.), and hardwood seedlings. Botanical taxonomic nomenclature is in accordance with Weakley (Weakley 2015).

The forested wetland communities within the 1985 Basin Haul Road Project area includes a low to moderate assemblage of species. The canopy stratum includes red maple, sweetgum, river birch (Betula nigra), yellow poplar, and/or sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). Loblolly pine (scattered occurrences) is present in some of the wetlands. The shrub stratum consists of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and/or saplings of the hardwood species identified. The groundstory vegetation is comprised of sedges (Carex spp.), spikegrass common greenbrier, poison ivy, and/or hardwood seedlings. Within the wetter wetland areas (including the eastern portions of the project area), the vegetation additionally includes soft rush (Juncus effusus), false-nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), and woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus).

The western portions of the 1985 Basin Haul Road project area lies within the 100-year flood zone. Wetland HH lies entirely within the 100 year floodzone.

Five soil types occur within the project area (excluding water classification), none are listed as hydric map units (NRCS 2018b). The non-hydric soil types are Chewacla and Wehadkee soils (ChA), Mattaponi fine sandy loam, 2 to 8 percent slopes (MaB), Peawick fine sandy loam, 0 to 2 percent slopes, rarely flooded (PcA) and Peawick fine sandy loam, 2 to 8 percent slopes (PeB), and Udorthents loam, 0 to 10 percent slopes (UdC).

Applicant’s Stated Purpose

The applicant's stated purpose is to allow for the safe transportation of coal ash from the existing 1985 Basin to the ash processing unit to be constructed in the eastern portion of the Cape Fear Plant, along the southern edge of Corinth Road.

Project History

The Duke Energy, Cape Fear Plant was a 316-megawatt coal-fired and oil-fueled combustion turbine power generating facility. The Plant was officially retired in October 2012, with demolition completed in 2017. The facility is in southeastern Chatham County along the Cape Fear River. The Cape Fear River abuts the western edges of the Plant property, and the Haw River is located north of the Plant. The Plant property is accessed from Corinth Road, which dissects the northeast portion of the Plant.

On August 20, 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly passed S 729, the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 (CAMA), requiring Duke Energy to phase out wet ash handling. Under CAMA, all coal ash in the state would be covered by North Carolina’s solid waste laws. In addition, on July 14, 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly passed SL 2016-95 (also known as HB 630), as an amendment to the Coal Ash Management Act, which created § 130A-309.216 ash beneficiation projects. With the passage of CAMA and the referenced amendment [§North Carolina General Statutes §130A-309.214(a)(4)], Duke Energy is following a timetable to close all its coal ashponds. Duke Energy plans to dismantle its existing older plants as part of a complex, multiyear process known as "decommissioning and demolition". By the end of 2013, Duke Energy retired units at nine coal-fired generation sites in North Carolina and South Carolina (Duke Energy 2018). The long-term goal for sites with retired coal units across the system is to demolish the structures and return them to a more natural state through grading and revegetation. During the early stages of the decommissioning and demolition strategy, the company would remove chemicals and other materials, salvage what equipment it can, recycle and repurpose at other sites, and sell the scrap material. In the demolition and restoration phases, Duke Energy plans to remove the powerhouse, chimneys, and auxiliary structures no longer needed. Following this procedure, Duke Energy would fill, grade, and vegetate disturbed areas (Duke Energy 2018). Duke Energy would continue to own and steward these properties.

Project Description

At the former Cape Fear Plant, Duke Energy has initiated ash basin closure plans. Processing the ash would require the construction of a processing facility on the company owned property adjacent east of the existing 1985 Basin and adjacent to Corinth Road. The overall project involves the proposed construction a new, one-lane haul road, with a turnaround in the middle area, extending from the 1985 ash basin east to the proposed STAR Unit facility. The new haul road project would include the installation of culverts within the footprint of the haul road and the construction of two ingress/egress areas to the STAR Unit facility from Corinth Road for employee and construction access. Implementation of the proposed project would result in direct impacts to wetlands. The haul road would result in permanent impacts to 1.82 acres of wetlands, and temporary impacts to 0.18 acre of wetlands. The project site is in the Cape Fear River Basin which is not located within a river basin that requires riparian buffers and is not subject to state riparian buffer regulations. The project site is in Chatham County. The Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance (Chatham County 2016) identified local setback buffers around the following wetland features:

Wetlands – 50 feet landward measured perpendicularly from the delineated wetland boundary for both jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional (isolated) wetlands.

Avoidance and Minimization

The applicant provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:

-The proposed haul road utilizes a section of upland.

-The proposed haul road was designed as a one lane road to minimize impacts.

-The proposed haul road side slopes were reduced from 3:1 slope to 2:1 slope to reduce wetland impacts.

-The proposed truck turnout/turn-around would be constructed within uplands to avoid wetland impacts.

-Mechanized land clearing would not be used within wetland areas identified as temporary impacts.

Compensatory Mitigation

The applicant offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: Mitigation for impacts to jurisdictional waters would be accomplished through payment to the North Carolina Division of Mitigation Services. The applicant has proposed a mitigation ratio of 1:1 for 0.17 acre of wetlands with an overall low NCWAM score and a mitigation ratio of 2:1 for 1.65 acre of wetlands with an overall high NCWAM score.

Essential Fish Habitat

Pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, this Public Notice initiates the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) consultation requirements. The Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed project would not effect EFH or associated fisheries managed by the South Atlantic or Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Councils or the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Cultural Resources

Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Appendix C of 33 CFR Part 325, and the 2005 Revised Interim Guidance for Implementing Appendix C, the District Engineer consulted district files and records and the latest published version of the National Register of Historic Places and initially determines that: Version 6.15.2017 Page 6

No historic properties, nor properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register, are present within the Corps’ permit area; therefore, there will be no historic properties affected. The Corps subsequently requests concurrence from the SHPO (or THPO).

The District Engineer’s final eligibility and effect determination will be based upon coordination with the SHPO and/or THPO, as appropriate and required, and with full consideration given to the proposed undertaking’s potential direct and indirect effects on historic properties within the Corps-indentified permit area.

Endangered Species

Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Corps reviewed the project area, examined all information provided by the applicant and consulted the latest North Carolina Natural Heritage Database. Based on available information:

The Corps determines that the proposed project would not affect federally listed endangered or threatened species or their formally designated critical habitat.

The Corps is not aware of the presence of species listed as threatened or endangered or their critical habitat formally designated pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) within the project area. The Corps will make a final determination on the effects of the proposed project upon additional review of the project and completion of any necessary biological assessment and/or consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or National Marine Fisheries Service.

Other Required Authorizations

The Corps forwards this notice and all applicable application materials to the appropriate State agencies for review.

North Carolina Division of Water Resources (NCDWR): The Corps will generally not make a final permit decision until the NCDWR issues, denies, or waives the state Certification as required by Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (PL 92-500). The receipt of the application and this public notice, combined with the appropriate application fee, at the NCDWR Central Office in Raleigh constitutes initial receipt of an application for a 401 Certification. A waiver will be deemed to occur if the NCDWR fails to act on this request for certification within sixty days of receipt of a complete application. Additional information regarding the 401 Certification may be reviewed at the NCDWR Central Office, 401 and Buffer Permitting Unit, 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27604-2260. All persons desiring to make comments regarding the application for a 401 Certification should do so, in writing, by April 4, 2019 to: Version 6.15.2017 Page 8

NCDWR Central Office

Attention: Ms. Karen Higgins, 401 and Buffer Permitting Unit

(USPS mailing address): 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617


(Physical address): 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27604

North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (NCDCM):

Based upon all available information, the Corps determines that this application for a Department of Army (DA) permit does not involve an activity which would affect the coastal zone, which is defined by the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Act (16 U.S.C. § 1453).


The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values (in accordance with Executive Order 11988), land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. For activities involving the discharge of dredged or fill materials in waters of the United States, the evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will include application of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 404(b)(1) guidelines.

Commenting Information

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State and local agencies and officials, including any consolidated State Viewpoint or written position of the Governor; Indian Tribes and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers 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 listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider the application. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing. Requests for a public hearing will be granted, unless the District Engineer determines that the issues raised are insubstantial or there is otherwise no valid interest to be served by a hearing.

The Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District will receive written comments pertinent to the proposed work, as outlined above, until 5pm, April 11, 2019. Comments should be submitted to Andrew Williams, Raleigh Regulatory Field Office, 3331 Heritage Trade Drive, Suite 105 , Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587, at (919) 554- 4884 extension 26 or via email at