Quick response by Regulatory Division keeps St. Thomas running

Jacksonville District
Published Feb. 11, 2013

Early in December 2012, Regulatory Division’s Antilles Office staff received word that the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands was on the brink of losing electrical power, absent a permit to make necessary modifications to a dock at Krum Bay which would facilitate the delivery of fuel.

The fuel supplier for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA), HOVENSA, a refinery on the island of St. Croix, had notified WAPA early last year that it was ceasing production. WAPA awarded a new fuel supply contract to Trafigura; however, Trafigura’s 400-foot long delivery vessel far exceeds the 100-foot vessel size accommodated by the dock. An anchor buoy system was needed in time for a mid-December delivery.

Regulatory Division received word of the needed permit Dec. 3, which was quickly followed by a work specification package Dec. 6.  WAPA requested authorization to install additional fenders and two mooring buoys at the dock, as well as a shore anchor system to secure the vessel. 

Under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizes activities for the protection and maintenance of the nation’s navigable waterways. With the issuance of two Nationwide Permits Dec. 7, Regulatory Division’s responsiveness prevented an energy crisis on the island just before the holidays.

“The standard time for issuing a permit is 30 to 45 days; however, without the permits to accomplish the necessary dock modifications as quickly as possible, the island would have been without electricity as of December 18,” said Edgar Garcia, project manager. 

Nationwide Permits (NWPs) are intended to streamline the evaluation and approval process for certain types of activities that have only minimal impacts to the environment. There are 52 types of NWPs, to meet a variety of needs such as minor dredging, bank stabilization and aquatic habitat restoration. In this case, NWP 3 authorized the maintenance and rehabilitation of WAPA’s dock at Krum Bay and NWP 10 authorized the mooring buoys. Special conditions included sea turtle construction conditions and vessel strike avoidance measures. 

“Close coordination with federal resource agencies and the territory of the Virgin Islands to obtain Coastal Zone Management permit and a waiver of Water Quality Certification helped to streamline this effort,” Garcia explained.

During a Dec. 13 meeting with Osvaldo Collazo, Regulatory Division’s North Branch chief,    Capt. J.C. Cordon, deputy district engineer for the Antilles, and Sindulfo Castillo, Edgar Garcia and Jose Cedeno of the Antilles Regulatory section, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and senior staff members commended the Corps and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources for expeditiously authorizing the work that allowed St. Thomas to receive the new barge that allowed electrical power to continue without interruption.