[Federal Register: September 15, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 178)]
[Page 53995-53996]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Holston River/Saltville National 
Priority List Site Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan Which 
Encompasses Smyth and Washington Counties, Virginia, and Hawkins and 
Sullivan Counties, TN

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

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), on behalf of the 
U.S. Department of the Interior, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the 
State of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, jointly 
referred to as the Saltville National Priority List (NPL) Site Trustee 
Council, announces the release for public review of the Holston River/
Saltville NPL Site Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Plan 
(Plan) which encompasses Smyth and Washington Counties, Virginia, and 
Hawkins and Sullivan Counties, Tennessee. The Plan describes the 
Trustee's proposal to assess potential injury to natural resources as a 
result of a release of hazardous substances.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted within 30 days of this 

ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of the Plan may be made to: U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office, 6669 Short Lane, 
Gloucester, Virginia 23061. Written comments regarding the Plan should 
be sent to the same address.

Wildlife Service, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester, Virginia 23061. 
Interested parties may also call 804-693-6694, extension 107, for 
further information.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Saltville NPL Site (Site) is located 
along the North Fork Holston River (NFHR) which flows through Smyth and 
Washington Counties, Virginia. The NFHR joins the South Fork Holston 
River to form the main stem Holston River (MHR) near Virginia's 
southern border with Tennessee. The NFHR and MHR (hereafter jointly 
referred to, with associated floodplains, as the ``River'') flow 
through Sullivan and Hawkins Counties, Tennessee, before entering the 
John Sevier Detention Reservoir and the Cherokee Dam. These contiguous 
areas and bodies of water comprise the geographical focus of this 
assessment. Due to hazardous substances released from industrial 
activities, the Site was included on the NPL in 1983 by the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Several operable units 
associated with the Site have been identified for remedial activities. 
Operable Unit 4 includes the Former Chlorine Plant site and the River 
and is the focus of this NRDA. Remedial activities for Operable Unit 4 
are ongoing. The EPA is acting as the lead response agency overseeing 
remedial activities at the Site and Operable Unit 4.
    Under subpart G of the National Oil and Hazardous Substance 
Pollution Contingency Plan, 40 CFR 300.600-.610 and Executive Order 
12580, the Federal government, States, and Indian tribes are authorized 
as natural resource trustees to recover damages from responsible 
parties for injuries to natural resources caused by the release of 
hazardous substances. This process is intended to compensate the public 
for lost natural resources and to restore services provided by those 
resources. The natural resource trustees for this matter include:
    --The U.S. Department of the Interior
    --The Commonwealth of Virginia
    --The State of Tennessee
    --The Tennessee Valley Authority
    The Trustees have developed a Memorandum of Agreement that provides 
a framework for continued cooperation and coordination. The Trustees 
have determined through a Preassessment Screen that further 
investigation and assessment is

[[Page 53996]]

warranted. A Notice of Intent to Perform an Assessment (NOI) was issued 
to the Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) in July 2003, indicating 
that the Trustees intend to proceed with NRDA procedures for the River. 
The NOI invited the PRP to participate in a cooperative injury 
    The purpose of this Plan is to guide the actions of the Trustees 
through the NRDA process. Before proceeding, the Trustees must document 
that potentially injured resources have been exposed to hazardous 
substances released from the Site. This confirmation of exposure in the 
River focuses primarily on mercury, which is associated with past 
operations at the Site and continuing contamination of the River. 
Mercury concentrations in river sediments, groundwater, floodplain 
soils and biota are elevated in comparison to other areas within the 
Upper Tennessee River Basin. Mercury has been detected in water, 
sediments, soils, algae, invertebrates, fish, mammals, and birds 
downstream from the Site. This exposure indicates that natural 
resources may have been injured as a result of releases of hazardous 
substances from the Site. The Trustees therefore believe that further 
assessment of these injuries is warranted.
    This Plan outlines the Trustees' proposed plans to document and 
evaluate potentially injured resources in the River. The Trustees 
intend to focus on the loss of ecological and human use services 
resulting from injuries to natural resources. Such lost services may 
include impairment of floodplain and aquatic flora and fauna, 
supporting habitats, and public use (e.g., consumption) of fish, 
wildlife, and other natural resources.
    The Trustees will assess suspected injuries to surface water, 
biological receptors, ground water, and/or geological resources using 
data and information currently available, as well as that proposed to 
be collected as part of the assessment. The Trustees will further 
analyze the identified natural resource injuries to evaluate the lost 
ecological and human use services provided by those resources. The 
evaluation will focus on baseline services that would have been 
provided had the hazardous substances not been released.
    Interested members of the public are invited to review and comment 
on the Plan. Copies of the Plan are available for review at the 
Service's Virginia Field Office in Gloucester, Virginia, and at the 
Service's Southwestern Virginia Field Office located at 330 Cummings 
Street, Suite A, Abingdon, Virginia 24210.
    Comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, will 
be available for public review during regular business hours. 
Individual respondents may request confidentiality. If you wish us to 
withhold your name and or address from public review or from disclosure 
under the Freedom of Information Act, you must state this prominently 
at the beginning of your written comment. Such requests will be honored 
to the extent allowed by law. We will not, however, consider anonymous 
comments. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from 
individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of 
organizations or businesses, will be made available for public 
inspection in their entirety.
    Author: The primary author of this notice, on behalf of the Trustee 
Council, is John Schmerfeld, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia 
Field Office, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester, Virginia 23061.

    Authority: The authority for this public review of the Plan 
announced by this notice is 43 CFR 11.32(c) action is the 
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act 
of 1980 as amended, commonly known as Superfund (42 U.S.C. 9601 et 
seq.), and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Regulations found 
at 43 CFR part 11.

    Dated: August 14, 2003.
James G. Geiger,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5, Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Department of the Interior, Designated Authorized Official.
[FR Doc. 03-23391 Filed 9-12-03; 8:45 am]