Subject to the provisions of subsections (b), (c), and (d) of this section, the Secretary may issue permits, after notice and opportunity for public hearings, for the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters, where the Secretary determines that the dumping will not unreasonably degrade or endanger human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities.
In making the determination required by subsection (a), the Secretary shall apply those criteria, established pursuant to section 1412(a) of this title, relating to the effects of the dumping. Based upon an evaluation of the potential effect of a permit denial on navigation, economic and industrial development, and foreign and domestic commerce of the United States, the Secretary shall make an independent determination as to the need for the dumping. The Secretary shall also make an independent determination as to other possible methods of disposal and as to appropriate locations for the dumping. In considering appropriate locations, he shall, to the maximum extent feasible, utilize the recommended sites designated by the Administrator pursuant to section 1412(c) of this title. In any case in which the use of a designated site is not feasible, the Secretary may, with the concurrence of the Administrator, select an alternative site. The criteria and factors established in section 1412(a) of this title relating to site selection shall be used in selecting the alternative site in a manner consistent with the application of such factors and criteria pursuant to section 1412(c) of this title. Disposal at or in the vicinity of an alternative site shall be limited to a period of not greater than 5 years unless the site is subsequently designated pursuant to section 1412(c) of this title; except that an alternative site may continue to be used for an additional period of time that shall not exceed 5 years if—
(1) no feasible disposal site has been designated by the Administrator;
(2) the continued use of the alternative site is necessary to maintain navigation and facilitate interstate or international commerce; and
(3) the Administrator determines that the continued use of the site does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health, aquatic resources, or the environment.
Prior to issuing a permit to any person under this section, the Secretary shall first notify the Administrator of the Secretary's intention to do so and provide necessary and appropriate information concerning the permit to the Administrator. Within 30 days of receiving such information, the Administrator shall review the information and request any additional information the Administrator deems necessary to evaluate the proposed permit.
Within 45 days after receiving from the Secretary all information the Administrator considers to be necessary to evaluate the proposed permit, the Administrator shall, in writing, concur with (either entirely or with conditions) or decline to concur with the determination of the Secretary as to compliance with the criteria, conditions, and restrictions established pursuant to sections 1412(a) and 1412(c) of this title relating to the environmental impact of the permit. The Administrator may request one 45-day extension in writing and the Secretary shall grant such request on receipt of the request.
In any case where the Administrator makes a determination to concur (with or without conditions) or to decline to concur within the time period specified in paragraph (2) the determination shall prevail. If the Administrator declines to concur in the determination of the Secretary no permit shall be issued. If the Administrator concurs with conditions the permit shall include such conditions. The Administrator shall state in writing the reasons for declining to concur or for the conditions of the concurrence.
If no written documentation is made by the Administrator within the time period provided for in paragraph (2), the Secretary may issue the permit.
Unless the Administrator grants a waiver pursuant to subsection (d), any permit issued by the Secretary shall require compliance with such criteria and restrictions.
If, in any case, the Secretary finds that, in the disposition of dredged material, there is no economically feasible method or site available other than a dumping site the utilization of which would result in non-compliance with the criteria established pursuant to section 1412(a) of this title relating to the effects of dumping or with the restrictions established pursuant to section 1412(c) of this title relating to critical areas, he shall so certify and request a waiver from the Administrator of the specific requirements involved. Within thirty days of the receipt of the waiver request, unless the Administrator finds that the dumping of the material will result in an unacceptably adverse impact on municipal water supplies, shell-fish beds, wildlife, fisheries (including spawning and breeding areas), or recreational areas, he shall grant the waiver.
In connection with Federal projects involving dredged material, the Secretary may, in lieu of the permit procedure, issue regulations which will require the application to such projects of the same criteria, other factors to be evaluated, the same procedures, and the same requirements which apply to the issuance of permits under subsections (a), (b), (c), and (d) of this section and section 1414(a) and (d) of this title.
(Pub. L. 92–532, title I, §103, Oct. 23, 1972, 86 Stat. 1055; Pub. L. 102–580, title V, §§504, 506(b), Oct. 31, 1992, 106 Stat. 4866, 4869.)
1992—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–580, §506(b), inserted "maximum" before "extent feasible" and inserted three sentences at end.
Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 102–580, §504(a), amended subsec. (c) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (c) read as follows: "Prior to issuing any permit under this section, the Secretary shall first notify the Administrator of his intention to do so. In any case in which the Administrator disagrees with the determination of the Secretary as to compliance with the criteria established pursuant to section 1412(a) of this title relating to the effects of the dumping or with the restrictions established pursuant to section 1412(c) of this title relating to critical areas, the determination of the Administrator shall prevail. Unless the Administrator grants a waiver pursuant to subsection (d), the Secretary shall not issue a permit which does not comply with such criteria and with such restrictions."
Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 102–580, §504(b), inserted before period at end "and section 1414(a) and (d) of this title".