USACE Approves Nome Port Expansion

By Margaret Bauman

A multi- million project to expand the Port of Nome into a deep water facility for private and military needs has been approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers and sent to Congress for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming Water Resources Development Act.

The Corps’ Alaska District, in partnership with the city of Nome, produced the Port of Nome Modification Feasibility Study under the authority of Section 2006 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007: Remote and Subsistence Harbors.

The Corps’ plan became official on May 29 with the signing event in Washington DC.

According to the Corps, the report has broad support from local, state, tribal and federal entities. Kawarek Inc., the regional tribal consortium of 20 federally recognized tribes in the Bering Straits region of Alaska, had earlier expressed in a letter to the Corps, concerned about the potential impact of that expansion plan on several issues, ranging from cultural and archaeological resources to access to subsistence resources.

After seeing the Corps’ plan headed for Congress, Alaska’s congressional delegation rounded applauded the project, which is already recognized in the authorizing legislation, S.3591, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, which was passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in May.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the proposed expansion is vital as traffic through the Bering Strait increases and that this will provide deepwater port access for both civilian and military vessels.

By Sarah Spangler