The Big River Coalition offers this update to document the status of the previously identified obstructions in the Venice Corridor that have prevented the Mississippi River Ship Channel from being opened up to deeper drafts since May 7, 2021. This update represents considerable effort to ensure accuracy and alert our membership to the ongoing challenges. Please review the attached document for complete details, critical portions are also reproduced below:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed the Phase 1 dredging for the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) to 50 feet on May 7, 2021. The Phase 1 section of the Ship Channel extends from Venice at Mile 13 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 22 Below Head of Passes (BHP). The USACE previously uncovered some depth anomalies over three pipelines and one utility cable that cross under the Ship Channel in this Venice Corridor between Mile 12.0 AHP to Mile 11.0 AHP. The USACE continues working with utility pipeline and cable owners requesting that they provide more accurate information to identify the depth over these potential obstructions. The USACE has now confirmed a sufficient depth exists over the Chevron Pipeline as noted in item #3.
The four previously identified obstructions detailed below are in the Venice Corridor between Mile 12 Above Head of Passes to Mile 11 Above Head of Passes, The following list identifies the obstructions and provides updated details on their locations and a status update. The USACE previously alerted Gulf South that their pipelines would eventually have to be relocated. The USACE recently requested additional surveys and documentation to provide depth of cover information from Gulf South Pipelines and Entergy (Items #1 and #2 and #4).
- Gulf South Pipeline (upriver): There are two 10-inch natural gas pipelines owned by Gulf South Pipeline, LLC both crossing the MRSC at approximately Mile 11.7 Above Head of Passes. For ease of number tracking the upriver pipeline is listed as #1 and the downriver pipeline is listed as #2.
- Gulf South Pipeline (downriver): The downriver natural gas pipeline of the two owned by Gulf South Pipelines at approximately Mile 11.7 Above Head of Passes.
- Chevron Pipelines: UPDATED: The USACE has now confirmed that the 12-inch Chevron pipeline at Mile 11.6 AHP does not represent a hazard or obstruction to the deeper authorized Ship Channel (50 Feet). The USACE has reviewed “as-built” engineering drawings that indicate this pipeline was installed more than 100 feet deep or at a sufficient depth to accommodate vessels with deeper drafts, 50 feet or greater.
- Entergy Utility Cable: This energy cable crosses the Mississippi River Ship Channel at approximately Mile 11.3 Above Head of Passes. Entergy had previously performed a survey of the submerged utility cable and was unable to locate the cable (presumably because of the depth of sediment cover over it). The USACE recently requested updated survey information from Entergy. Entergy intends to eventually abandon and remove the existing cable and install a new one about a mile down river from the existing cable.
The USACE is actively working to identify refined survey techniques representing cutting edge advancements in hydrographic technology. The USACE is collaborating with the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and planning to test the accuracy of new survey methods and equipment to locate obstructions (pipelines and cables) below river bottom. The designed survey tests will be used to focus attention on the identified obstructions in the Venice Corridor first. Depending upon results the new techniques could be used to locate potential obstructions on the Crossings Above New Orleans (Phase 2 of the Ship Channel Deepening). The Big River Coalition has been actively coordinating with the USACE and ERDC as state-of-the-art hydrographic survey techniques and equipment are expected to be deployed in the Venice Corridor in October 2021.