Environmental Consulting & Engineering Services - from Concept to Reality

Case Studies

seawall face

Fall River City Pier Redevelopment Project

ESS provided environmental permitting, including Chapter 91, and flood hazard analysis for this $7.5 million project to remediate a contaminated section of the Fall River City Pier. The project is part of the Fall River Redevelopment Authority’s (FRRA) goal to maintain, repair, and replace existing seawalls and bulkheads, as well as cap and remediate fill designated as a Brownfield Priority Project by MassDevelopment.


ESS was responsible for developing a permitting strategy and obtaining environmental regulatory permits. The site’s licensing history under Chapter 91 is complex and includes both Chapter 91 licenses and legislative authorizations. ESS first reviewed this history, then provided interpretations of the permit requirements and developed a permit strategy/schedule for FRRA and its structural engineering consultant.

Site engineers determined that a new sheet steel bulkhead wall system should be placed directly seaward of the original, structurally unstable granite seawall. Granite blocks from the existing seawall could not be used in the construction process because moving them could further destabilize the existing bulkhead and fill, resulting in the relase of contaminated soil into the Taunton River. As part of the site remediation approval, the US EPA required the construction of a barrier to suppress the PCB-impacted soil.

Technical Studies

ESS conducted a flood hazard analysis to verify FEMA-mapped flood hazard zones and base elevations at the Project site by using estimated wind-generated wave heights and FEMA approved models. This information was then used by FRRA and its structural engineering consultant to verify the proposed cap and site elevations.

Engineering & Design

ESS worked closely with FRRA’s structural engineering consultant to merge regulatory and engineering requirements for the design of the bulkhead and cap. To achieve two feet of separation between the final concrete surface and the underlying PCB-impacted soils, the land will be raised 10 feet with seawall pilings. Clean utility corridors will also be installed to prevent future construction or utility workers from exposure to the impacted soils.

Approximately 1,880 linear feet of steel sheet pile bulkhead will be used to reinforce and repair the existing granite seawall. The bulkhead design also incorporates the minimum lateral extent required to allow for proper tieback placement, which will secure the new bulkhead into the existing contaminated soils behind the granite block wall. Clean structural fill (granular material) will plug the area between the existing seawall and the new bulkhead to remove void space between the structures.

Permitting & Compliance

The permit applications prepared by ESS successfully demonstrated the project’s minimal individual or cumulative environmental impacts. With support from ESS, the City Pier project received the following the permits:

  • Chapter 91 Waterways License
  • 401 Water Quality Certificate
  • Wetlands Protection Act Order of Conditions
  • Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Certificate
  • US Army Corps of Engineers Massachusetts General Permit authorization

To reduce the complexity of the permit applications, ESS used MassDEP’s application procedure for combined licenses/permits for the Chapter 91 Waterways and 401 Water Quality Certification. This allowed for joint review and public notice for both applications. During review of the permit applications, ESS engaged with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to further explain the work, and help the agency determine appropriate Time of Year restrictions for in-water construction activities.

Outcome & Benefits

A key element to the successful permitting of this project was ESS’s substantial knowledge and understanding of the Chapter 91 Waterways regulations, as well as how to integrate authorizations issued by license and legislation into a permitting strategy. This expertise will continue to be key factors as future public uses are permitted at City Pier.

Construction of the bulkhead and engineered cap at Fall River City Pier are expected to begin in 2017. As the City seeks to add additional features to the project, ESS anticipates working with the FRRA to facilitate the permitting and approval of future water-dependent redevelopment at City Pier.