EPA Region 4 Issues Final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permits for Offshore Oil and Gas Extraction for the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico.
The permit affects areas offshore of Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. This permit covers the entire Eastern Planning Area and a portion of the Central Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico.
"This oil and gas permit provides for the highest level of protection ever required under a general permit for the Gulf of Mexico. It establishes more stringent limits on specific pollutants such as cadmium and mercury in oil and gas extraction activities," said John H. Hankinson, Jr., EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. "The development of this permit considered the concerns of all interested parties. EPA is committed to protecting sensitive environments."
The final NPDES permit allows existing and new source facilities to apply for general permit coverage in water depths greater than 200 meters in federal waters offshore Gulf Shores, Alabama eastward along the entire Gulf coast of Florida in an area known as the Eastern Planning Area. Facilities located in waters from the shore to the 200-meter depth in the Eastern Planning Area are not covered by this final action. These facilities must apply for coverage under an individual permit. Also, the permit covers facilities from three miles offshore and out to sea off western Alabama and Mississippi in the area known as the Central Planning Area.
EPA has determined that the Eastern Planning Area from the shore to the 200-meter depth may include extensive valuable marine habitats. Therefore, individual project reviews and permit applications will be required for activities in this area, as well as four areas of biological concern within the Central Planning Area offshore Alabama and Mississippi. Individual permits are warranted due to limited exploration and environmental evaluation in these areas.
Facilities which have discharged within two years of the effective date of this general permit must file a notice of intent. These facilities must request coverage within 60 days of the date of issuance of the general permit. Facilities which have not discharged within two years of the effective date of this permit are not eligible for coverage. Their coverage under the previous permit will terminate on the effective date of the general permit.
Through an Environmental Impact Statement, which was public noticed in August 1998, EPA considered different types and degrees of environmental survey information, different review procedures, and discharge options to ensure that the permit is fully protective of the environment.
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|Date:||Oct 20, 1998|
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