[Federal Register: August 15, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 156)]
[Page 47846-47848]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish & Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Conduct Restoration Planning: M/V Citrus 
Natural Resource Damage Assessment

AGENCY: Fish & Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to conduct restoration planning.


SUMMARY: The United States Department of the Interior, trustee for the 
incident involving the discharge of oil from the M/V Citrus, has chosen 
to enter into the restoration planning phase of a Natural Resource 
Damage Assessment. The purpose of this phase is to prepare a plan for 
the restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, or the acquisition of the 
natural resources injured, destroyed or lost, or the uses which were 
lost, as a result of this discharge.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Siekaniec, Refuge Manager or 
Laurie Daniel, M/V Citrus Case Manager, Alaska Maritime National 
Wildlife Refuge (AMNWR), 95 Sterling Highway, Suite 1, Homer, AK 99603, 
or by phone at (907) 235-6546.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In mid-February of 1996, a large number of 
various species of oiled migratory waterfowl and seabirds were 
discovered on the Bering Sea islands of St. Paul and St. George, in the 
Pribilof Islands, Alaska. Laboratory analysis of oil samples taken from 
vessels in the area

[[Page 47847]]

and from the carcasses of oiled birds resulted in the identification by 
the United States Coast Guard of the cargo freighter M/V Citrus as the 
source of the oil.
    In the days immediately preceding this discovery, the hull of the 
M/V Citrus had been ruptured during operations offshore of the 
northwest end of St. Paul Island when cargo from another vessel was 
being transferred to the M/V Citrus. As a result of this rupture and 
the crew's efforts to stabilize the vessel, an undetermined amount of 
heavy fuel oil was discharged from the M/V Citrus into waters of the 
United States within the Bering Sea.
    The discharge of oil from the M/V Citrus described above is 
referred to in this Notice of Intent to Conduct Restoration Planning 
(``Notice''), issued pursuant to 15 CFR 990.44, as the ``Incident.''
    Pursuant to section 1006(b) of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 
(``OPA''), 33 U.S.C. 2706(b), the Secretary of the U.S. Department of 
the Interior, represented by the Regional Director of the Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Alaska Region, is a designated trustee of natural 
resources for this Incident (``Trustee''). The Trustee is responsible 
for assessing the damages to natural resources under its trusteeship 
that have resulted from the Incident, developing a plan for the 
restoration of these resources, and pursuing funding from responsible 
parties for the implementation of this plan or the implementation of 
the plan by the responsible parties themselves. The Trustee is 
proceeding in accordance with the regulations for Natural Resource 
Damage Assessments at 15 CFR part 990.
    One of the goals of OPA is to make the environment and the public 
whole for injuries to natural resources and services resulting from an 
incident involving a discharge or substantial threat of a discharge of 
oil from a vessel into or upon navigable waters or adjoining 
shorelines. This goal is achieved through the return of the injured 
natural resources and services to baseline and the provision of 
compensation for interim losses of such natural resources and the 
services they provide, to other natural resources and/or the public, 
from the date of the incident until recovery.
    The parties responsible for the Incident (``Responsible Parties'') 
include Excel Navigation, S.A., the owner and operator of the M/V 
Citrus at the time of the Incident. The guarantor of financial 
responsibility for the liability of Excel Navigation, S.A,. is the 
Japan Shipowners' Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association.
    The Trustee has performed pre-assessment activities in connection 
with the Incident, including data collection and preliminary analysis. 
These activities include conducting a drift experiment to assess the 
influence of wind on the recovery of oiled seabirds; conducting a study 
to estimate persistence rates and detection probabilities of oiled king 
eider carcasses; conducting Seawatch surveys and counts to determine 
species at risk from the Incident; performing a genetic 
characterization of breeding and wintering king eiders; and collecting 
and cataloguing marine bird carcasses found on beaches following the 
    On September 1, 2004, the Trustee invited Excel Navigation, S.A., 
to participate in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and 
Restoration Planning process.

Trustee Determinations

1. Determination of Jurisdiction

    The Trustee has made the following findings pursuant to 15 CFR 
    a. The Trustee has jurisdiction to pursue restoration pursuant to 
the Oil Pollution Act, 33 U.S.C. 2702 and 2706(c). The discharge of oil 
beginning on or about February 16, 1996, from the M/V Citrus into the 
Bering Sea, approximately 6 km north of St. Paul Island, was an 
``incident'' as defined at 15 CFR 990.30.
    (1) The M/V Citrus, a ``vessel'' as defined at 33 U.S.C. 2701(37), 
discharged the entire quantity of oil involved in this Incident.
    (2) The M/V Citrus discharged oil into or upon navigable waters of 
the United States, including navigable waters adjacent to St. Paul 
Island, Alaska.
    b. The Trustee has determined that:
    (1) This Incident was not permitted under Federal, State or local 
    (2) The M/V Citrus is not a public vessel, as defined at 15 CFR 
    (3) The discharge of oil did not occur from an onshore facility 
subject to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authority; and
    (4) Natural resources under the trusteeship of the Trustee were 
injured as a result of the Incident. 40 CFR 300.600(b)(2).
    c. Based upon information gathered during the response phase of the 
Incident and the pre-assessment phase of the Natural Resource Damage 
Assessment, the Trustee has determined that, due to the amount and type 
of oil discharged, the location of the discharge, and the living and 
non-living natural resources and uses in the area at the time of the 
discharge, natural resources under its trusteeship have been injured, 
destroyed, or lost, and use of the natural resources has been lost as a 
result of the Incident.

2. Determination To Conduct Restoration Planning

    The Trustee has determined, pursuant to 15 CFR 990.42(a), that:
    a. Data collected and analyzed pursuant to 15 CFR 990.43 
demonstrate that injuries to natural resources have resulted from the 
Incident, including but not limited to injury to a wide variety and 
number of waterfowl and seabirds. Among the species injured are pelagic 
cormorants, red-faced cormorants, long-tailed ducks (formerly called 
oldsquaw), harlequin ducks, king eiders, spectacled eiders, glaucous-
winged gulls, common murres, thick-billed murres, crested auklets, 
parakeet auklets, and pigeon guillemots. Spectacled eiders are 
federally listed as ``threatened'' under the Endangered Species Act, 16 
U.S.C. 1531-1544. A total of 1367 injured birds were recovered onshore 
as a result of the incident. Specifically, 1202 dead birds were 
recovered on beaches, and 165 live but oiled birds were captured and 
underwent rehabilitation.
    In light of the prevailing weather and sea conditions at the time 
of the Incident, their presence in the area, and the nature of the 
birds at risk from the Incident, the Trustee believes that a large 
number of marine birds likely perished at sea. The Trustee plans to 
further analyze the extent of injury to better define the total number 
of birds injured and services lost from the Incident.
    b. Response actions have not adequately addressed the injuries and 
lost services resulting from the Incident. Response efforts included 
removing dead bird carcasses and capturing, cleaning, and 
rehabilitating live oiled birds. Despite these efforts, only a small 
percentage of the birds affected by the oil were treated and many birds 
perished as a result of the Incident.
    c. Potential assessment procedures to be used to evaluate injuries 
to, and to design and implement the appropriate type and scale of 
restoration for these natural resources and services consist of, but 
are not necessarily limited to:
    (1) Examining pre-existing baseline data on marine birds which 
normally winter in the area of the Incident, and data collected from 
Seawatch surveys at the time of the Incident, to assess damage to 
    (2) Modeling of pre-existing population and incident-related 
carcass recovery data to obtain an estimate of total birds injured by 
the Incident; and

[[Page 47848]]

    (3) Analyzing habitat information to properly scale restoration 
    d. Feasible primary and compensatory restoration actions exist to 
address injuries from the Incident. Restoration activities are expected 
to focus on marine birds. Restoration could include actions to protect 
and enhance habitat. Feasible restoration actions relevant to the 
injuries may include, but are not necessarily limited to:
    (1) Establishing a database of demographic and phenotypic 
information on king eiders for identification and management of 
sensitive areas around the Pribilof Islands;
    (2) Preventing the introduction of rats on the Pribilof Islands to 
protect the habitat and populations of marine birds injured by the 
    (3) Removing introduced terrestrial invasive species that prey on 
or compete with marine birds, such as fox, rats, and /or ground 
squirrels on certain islands of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife 
Refuge to restore habitat and populations of marine birds injured by 
the Incident;
    (4) Enhance, protect, and/or acquire seabird nesting habitat in the 
Aleutian and Pribilof Islands; and
    (5) Public outreach in the Pribilof Islands on issues that can 
reduce further marine bird losses.
    Data supporting these determinations are contained in the 
Administrative Record established for this case (see below).
    Based upon the foregoing determination, the Trustee has chosen to 
proceed with restoration planning for this Incident.

Opportunity To Comment

    Pursuant to 15 CFR 990.14(d), the Trustee will seek public 
involvement in restoration planning for this Incident through public 
review of, and comment on, the Draft Restoration Plan. When the Draft 
Restoration Plan is prepared, the public will be notified of the 
opportunity to comment. Questions regarding this Notice may be directed 
to: Greg Siekaniec, Refuge Manager or Laurie Daniel, M/V Citrus Case 
Manager, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (AMNWR), 95 Sterling 
Highway, Suite 1, Homer, Alaska 99603, Phone: (907) 235-6546.

Administrative Record

    The Trustee has opened an Administrative Record (``Record'') in 
compliance with 15 CFR 990.45. The Record includes documents relied 
upon by the Trustee to date in the pre-assessment phase of the natural 
resource damage assessment in connection with the Incident, and the 
Record will be supplemented with additional relevant documents as the 
natural resource damage assessment proceeds. The Record is on file at 
the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer, Alaska. 
Arrangements can be made to review the Record by contacting Greg 
Siekaniec, Refuge Manager or Laurie Daniel, M/V Citrus Case Manager, at 
the above contact information.

    Dated: March 16, 2005.
Gary Edwards,
Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, 
[FR Doc. 05-16105 Filed 8-12-05; 8:45 am]