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e-CFR data is current as of January 15, 2021

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter DPart 970 → Subpart E


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 970—DEEP SEABED MINING REGULATIONS FOR EXPLORATION LICENSES


Subpart E—Issuance/Transfer/Terms, Conditions and Restrictions


Contents
§970.500   General.

Issuance/Transfer; Modification/Revision; Suspension/Revocation

§970.501   Proposal to issue or transfer and of terms, conditions and restrictions.
§970.502   Consultation and cooperation with Federal agencies.
§970.503   Freedom of the high seas.
§970.504   International obligations of the United States.
§970.505   Breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict.
§970.506   Environmental effects.
§970.507   Safety at sea.
§970.508   Denial of issuance or transfer.
§970.509   Notice of issuance or transfer.
§970.510   Objections to terms, conditions and restrictions.
§970.511   Suspension or modification of activities; suspension or revocation of licenses.
§970.512   Modification of terms, conditions and restrictions.
§970.513   Revision of a license.
§970.514   Scale requiring application procedures.
§970.515   Duration of a license.
§970.516   Approval of license transfers.

Terms, Conditions, and Restrictions

§970.517   Diligence requirements.
§970.518   Environmental protection requirements.
§970.519   Resource conservation requirements.
§970.520   Freedom of the high seas requirements.
§970.521   Safety at sea requirements.
§970.522   Monitoring requirements.
§970.523   Special terms, conditions, and restrictions.
§970.524   Other Federal requirements.

Source: 46 FR 45903, Sept. 15, 1981, unless otherwise noted.

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§970.500   General.

(a) Proposal. After certification of an application pursuant to Subpart D of this part, the Administrator will proceed with a proposal to issue or transfer a license for the exploration activities described in the application.

(b)(1) Terms, conditions and restrictions. Within 180 days (or such longer period as the Administrator may establish for good cause shown in writing) after certification, the Administrator will propose terms and conditions for, and restrictions on, the proposed exploration which are consistent with the provisions of the Act and this part as set forth in §§970.517 through 970.524. Proposed and final terms, conditions and restrictions will be uniform in all licenses, except to the extent that differing physical and environmental conditions require the establishment of special terms, conditions and restrictions for the conservation of natural resources, protection of the environment, or the safety of life and property at sea. The Administrator will propose these in writing to the applicant. Also, public notice thereof will be provided pursuant to §970.501, and they will be included with the draft of the EIS on the issuance of a license which is required by section 109(d) of the Act.

(2) If the Administrator does not propose terms, conditions and restrictions within 180 days after certification, he will notify the applicant in writing of the reasons for the delay and will indicate the approximate date on which the proposed terms, conditions and restrictions will be completed.

(c) Findings. Before issuing or transferring an exploration license, the Administrator must make written findings in accordance with the requirements of §§970.503 through 970.507. These findings will be made after considering all information submitted with respect to the application and proposed issuance or transfer. He will make a final determination on issuance or transfer of a license, and will publish a final EIS on that action, within 180 days (or such longer period of time as he may establish for good cause shown in writing) following the date on which proposed terms, conditions and restrictions, and the draft EIS, are published.

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Issuance/Transfer; Modification/Revision; Suspension/Revocation

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§970.501   Proposal to issue or transfer and of terms, conditions and restrictions.

(a) Notice and comment. The Administrator will publish in the Federal Register notice of each proposal to issue or transfer, and of terms and conditions for, and restrictions on, an exploration license. Subject to 15 CFR 971.802, interested persons will be permitted to examine the materials relevant to such proposals. Interested persons will have at least 60 days after publication of such notice to submit written comments to the Administrator.

(b) Hearings. (1) The Administrator will hold a public hearing in an appropriate location and may employ such additional methods as he deems appropriate to inform interested persons about each proposal and to invite their comments thereon.

(2) If the Administrator determines there exists one or more specific and material factual issues which require resolution by formal processes, at least one formal hearing will be held in the District of Columbia metropolitan area in accordance with the provisions of subpart I of 15 CFR part 971. The record developed in any such formal hearing will be part of the basis for the Administrator's decisions on issuance or transfer of, and of terms, conditions and restrictions for the license.

(c) Hearings held pursuant to this section will be consolidated insofar as

practicable with hearings held by other agencies.

[46 FR 45903, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 54 FR 548, Jan. 6, 1989]

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§970.502   Consultation and cooperation with Federal agencies.

Prior to the issuance or transfer of an exploration license, the Administrator will continue the consultation and cooperation with other Federal agencies which were initiated pursuant to §970.211. This consultation will be to assure compliance with, among other statutes, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended, and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. He also will consult, prior to any issuance, transfer, modification or renewal of a license, with any affected Regional Fishery Management Council established pursuant to section 302 of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1852) if the activities undertaken pursuant to such license could adversely affect any fishery within the Fishery Conservation Zone, or any anadromous species or Continental Shelf fishery resource subject to the exclusive management authority of the United States beyond such zone.

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§970.503   Freedom of the high seas.

(a) Before issuing or transferring an exploration license, the Administrator must find that the exploration proposed in the application will not unreasonably interfere with the exercise of the freedoms of the high seas by other nations, as recognized under general principles of international law.

(b) In making this finding, the Administrator will recognize that exploration for hard mineral resources of the deep seabed is a freedom of the high seas. In the exercise of this right, each licensee must act with reasonable regard for the interests of other nations in their exercise of the freedoms of the high seas.

(c)(1) In the event of a conflict between the exploration program of an applicant or licensee and a competing use of the high seas by another nation or its nationals, the Administrator, in consultation and cooperation with the Department of State and other interested agencies, will enter into negotiations with that nation to resolve the conflict. To the maximum extent possible the Administrator will endeavor to resolve the conflict in a manner that will allow both uses to take place in a manner in which neither will unreasonably interfere with the other.

(2) If both uses cannot be conducted harmoniously in the area subject to the exploration plan, the Administrator will decide whether to issue or transfer the license.

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§970.504   International obligations of the United States.

Before issuing or transferring an exploration license, the Administrator must find that the exploration proposed in the application will not conflict with any international obligation of the United States established by any treaty or international convention in force with respect to the United States.

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§970.505   Breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict.

Before issuing or transferring an exploration license, the Administrator must find that the exploration proposed in the application will not create a situation which may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict.

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§970.506   Environmental effects.

Before issuing or transferring an exploration license, the Administrator must find that the exploration proposed in the application cannot reasonably be expected to result in a significant adverse effect on the quality of the environment, taking into account the analyses and information in any applicable EIS prepared pursuant to section 109(c) or 109(d) of the Act. This finding also will be based upon the considerations and approach in §970.701.

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§970.507   Safety at sea.

Before issuing or transferring an exploration license, the Administrator must find that the exploration proposed in the application will not pose an inordinate threat to the safety of life and property at sea. This finding will be based on the requirements reflected in §§970.205 and 970.801.

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§970.508   Denial of issuance or transfer.

(a) The Administrator may deny issuance or transfer of a license if he finds that the applicant or the proposed exploration activities do not meet the requirements of this part for the issuance or transfer of a license.

(b) When the Administrator proposes to deny issuance or transfer, he will send to the applicant, and publish in the Federal Register, written notice of such intention to deny issuance or transfer. Such notice will include:

(1) The basis upon which the Administrator proposes to deny issuance or transfer; and

(2) If the basis for the proposed denial is a deficiency which the Administrator believes the applicant can correct:

(i) The action believed necessary to correct the deficiency; and

(ii) The time within which any correctable deficiency must be corrected (the period of time may not exceed 180 days except as specified by the Administrator for good cause).

The Federal Register notice will not include the coordinates of the proposed exploration area.

(c) The Administrator will deny issuance or transfer:

(1) On the 30th day after the date the notice is sent to the applicant under paragraph (b) of this section, unless before such 30th day the applicant files with the Administrator a written request for an administrative review of the proposed denial; or

(2) On the last day of the period established under paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section in which the applicant must correct a deficiency, if such deficiency has not been corrected before such day and an administrative review requested pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) of this section is not pending or in progress.

(d) If a timely request for administrative review of the proposed denial is made by the applicant under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Administrator will promptly begin a formal hearing in accordance with subpart I of 15 CFR part 971. If the proposed denial is the result of a correctable deficiency, the administrative review will proceed concurrently with any attempt to correct the deficiency, unless the parties agree otherwise or the administrative law judge orders differently.

(e) If the Administrator denies issuance or transfer, he will send to the applicant written notice of the denial, including the reasons therefor.

(f) Any final determination by the Administrator granting or denying issuance of a license is subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code.

[46 FR 45903, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 54 FR 548, Jan. 6, 1989]

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§970.509   Notice of issuance or transfer.

If the Administrator finds that the requirements of this part have been met, he will issue or transfer the license along with the appropriate terms, conditions and restrictions. Notification thereof will be made in writing to the applicant and in the Federal Register.

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§970.510   Objections to terms, conditions and restrictions.

(a) The licensee may file a notice of objection to any term, condition or restriction in the license. The licensee may object on the grounds that any term, condition or restriction is inconsistent with the Act or this part, or on any other grounds which may be raised under applicable provisions of law. If the licensee does not file notice of an objection within the 60-day period immediately following the licensee's receipt of the notice of issuance or transfer under §970.509, he will be deemed conclusively to have accepted the terms, conditions and restrictions in the license.

(b) Any notice of objection filed under paragraph (a) of this section must be in writing, must contain the precise legal basis for the objection, and must provide information relevant to any underlying factual issues deemed by the licensee as necessary to the Administrator's decision upon the objection.

(c) Within 90 days after receipt of the notice of objection, the Administrator will act on the objection and publish in the Federal Register, as well as provide to the licensee, written notice of his decision.

(d) If, after the Administrator takes final action on an objection, the licensee demonstrates that a dispute remains on a material issue of fact, the Administrator will provide for a formal hearing which will proceed in accordance with subpart I of 15 CFR part 971.

(e) Any final determination by the Administrator on an objection to terms, conditions or restrictions in a license after the formal hearing provided in paragraph (d) of this section is subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code.

[46 FR 45903, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 54 FR 548, Jan. 6, 1989]

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§970.511   Suspension or modification of activities; suspension or revocation of licenses.

(a) The Administrator may:

(1) In addition to, or in lieu of, the imposition of any civil penalty under subpart J of 15 CFR part 971, or in addition to the imposition of any fine under subpart J, suspend or revoke any license issued under this part, or suspend or modify any particular activities under such a license, if the licensee substantially fails to comply with any provision of the Act, this part, or any term, condition or restriction of the license; and

(2) Suspend or modify particular activities under any license, if the President determines that such suspension or modification is necessary:

(i) To avoid any conflict with any international obligation of the United States established by any treaty or convention in force with respect to the United States; or

(ii) To avoid any situation which may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict.

(b) Any action taken by the Administrator in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) will proceed pursuant to the procedures in 15 CFR 971.1003. Any action taken in accordance with paragraph (a)(2) will proceed pursuant to paragraphs (c) through (i) of this section, other than paragraph (h)(2).

(c) Prior to taking any action specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section the Administrator will publish in the Federal Register, and send to the licensee, written notice of the proposed action. The notice will include:

(1) The basis of the proposed action; and

(2) If the basis for the proposed action is a deficiency which the Administrator believes the licensee can correct:

(i) The action believed necessary to correct the deficiency; and

(ii) The time within which any correctable deficiency must be corrected (this period of time may not exceed 180 days except as specified by the Administrator for good cause).

(d) The Administrator will take the proposed action:

(1) On the 30th day after the date the notice is sent to the licensee, under paragraph (c) of this section, unless before such 30th day the licensee files with the Administrator a written request for an administrative review of the proposed action; or

(2) On the last day of the period established under paragraph (c)(2)(ii) of this section in which the licensee must correct the deficiency, if such deficiency has not been corrected before such day and an administrative review requested pursuant to paragraph (d)(1) of this section is not pending or in progress.

(e) If a timely request for administrative review of the proposed action is made by the licensee under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the Administrator will promptly begin a formal hearing in accordance with subpart I of 15 CFR part 971. If the proposed action is the result of a correctable deficiency, the administrative review will proceed concurrently with any attempt to correct the deficiency, unless the parties agree otherwise or the administrative law judge orders differently.

(f) The Administrator will serve on the licensee, and publish in the Federal Register, written notice of the action taken including the reasons therefor.

(g) Any final determination by the Administrator to take the proposed action is subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code.

(h) The issuance of any notice of proposed action under this section will not affect the continuation of exploration activities by a licensee, except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section.

(i) The provisions of paragraphs (c), (d), (e) and (h) of this section will not apply when:

(1) The President determines by Executive Order that an immediate suspension of a license, or immediate suspension or modification of particular activities under such license, is necessary for the reasons set forth in paragraph (a)(2) of this section; or

(2) The Administrator determines that immediate suspension of such a license, or immediate suspension or modification of particular activities under a license, is necessary to prevent a significant adverse effect on the environment or to preserve the safety of life or property at sea, and the Administrator issues an emergency order in accordance with §971.1003(d)(4).

(j) The Administrator will immediately rescind the emergency order as soon as he has determined that the cause for the order has been removed.

[46 FR 45903, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 54 FR 548, Jan. 6, 1989]

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§970.512   Modification of terms, conditions and restrictions.

(a) After issuance or transfer of any license, the Administrator, after consultation with interested agencies and the licensee, may modify any term, condition, or restriction in such license for the following purposes:

(1) To avoid unreasonable interference with the interests of other nations in their exercise of the freedoms of the high seas, as recognized under general principles of international law. This determination will take into account the provisions of §970.503;

(2) If relevant data and other information (including, but not limited to, data resulting from exploration activities under the license) indicate that modification is required to protect the quality of the environment or to promote the safety of life and property at sea;

(3) To avoid a conflict with any international obligation of the United States, established by any treaty or convention in force with respect to the United States, as determined in writing by the President; or

(4) To avoid any situation which may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict, as determined in writing by the President.

(b) The procedures for objection to the modification of a term, condition or restriction will be the same as those for objection to an original term, condition or restriction under §970.510, except that the period for filing notice of objection will run from the receipt of notice of proposed modification. Public notice of proposed modifications under this section will be made according to §970.514. On or before the date of publication of public notice, written notice will be provided to the licensee.

[46 FR 45903, Sept. 15, 1981; 47 FR 5966, Feb. 9, 1982]

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§970.513   Revision of a license.

(a) During the term of an exploration license, the licensee may submit to the Administrator an application for a revision of the license or the exploration plan associated with it. NOAA recognizes that changes in circumstances encountered, and in information and technology developed, by the licensee during exploration may require such revisions. In some cases it may even be advisable to recognize at the time of filing the original license application that although the essential information for issuing or transferring a license as specified in §§970.201 through 920.208 must be included in such application, some details may have to be provided in the future in the form of a revision. In such instances, the Administrator may issue or transfer a license which would authorize exploration activities and plans only to the extent described in the application.

(b) The Administrator will approve such application for a revision upon a finding in writing that the revision will comply with the requirements of the Act and this part.

(c) A change which would require an application to and approval by the Administrator as a revision is a major change in one or more of:

(1) The bases for certifying the original application pursuant to §§970.401 through 970.406;

(2) The bases for issuing or transferring the license pursuant to §§970.503 through 970.507; or

(3) The terms, conditions and restrictions issued for the license pursuant to §§970.517 through 970.524.

A major change is one which is of such significance so as to raise a question as to:

(i) The applicant's ability to meet the requirements of the sections cited in paragraphs (c) (1) and (2) of this section; or

(ii) The sufficiency of the terms, conditions and restrictions to accomplish their intended purpose.

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§970.514   Scale requiring application procedures.

(a) A proposal by the Administrator to modify a term, condition or restriction in a license pursuant to §970.512, or an application by a licensee for revision of a license or exploration plan pursuant to §970.513, is significant, and the full application requirements and procedures will apply, if it would result in other than an incidental:

(1) Increase in the size of the exploration area; or

(2) Change in the location of the area.

An incidental increase or change is that which equals two percent or less of the original exploration area, so long as such adjustment is contiguous to the licensed area.

(b) All proposed modifications or revisions other than described in paragraph (a) of this section will be acted on after a notice thereof is published by the Administrator in the Federal Register, with a 60-day opportunity for public comment. On a case-by-case basis, the Administrator will determine if other procedures, such as a public hearing in a potentially affected area, are warranted. Notice of the Administrator's decision on the proposed modification will be provided to the licensee in writing and published in the Federal Register.

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§970.515   Duration of a license.

(a) Each exploration license will be issued for a period of 10 years.

(b) If the licensee has substantially complied with the license and its associated exploration plan and requests an extension of the license, the Administrator will extend the license on terms, conditions and restrictions consistent with the Act and this part for a period of not more than 5 years.

In determining substantial compliance for purposes of this section, the Administrator may make allowance for deviation from the exploration plan for good cause, such as significantly changed market conditions. However, a request for extension must be accompanied by an amended exploration plan to govern the activities by the licensee during the extended period.

(c) Successive extensions may be requested, and will be granted by the Administrator, based on the criteria, and for the length of time, specified in paragraph (b) of this section.

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§970.516   Approval of license transfers.

(a) The Administrator may transfer a license after a written request by the licensee. After a licensee submits such a request to the Administrator, the proposed transferee will be deemed an applicant for an exploration license, and will be subject to the requirements and procedures of this part.

(b) The Administrator will transfer a license if the proposed transferee and exploration activities meet the requirements of the Act and this part, and if the proposed transfer is in the public interest. The Administrator will presume that the transfer is in the public interest if it meets the requirements of the Act and this part. In case of mere change in the form or ownership of a licensee, the Administrator may waive relevant determinations for requirements for which no changes have occurred since the preceding application.

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Terms, Conditions, and Restrictions

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§970.517   Diligence requirements.

The terms, conditions and restrictions in each exploration license must include provisions to assure diligent development. The Administrator will establish these pursuant to §970.602.

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§970.518   Environmental protection requirements.

(a) Each exploration license must contain such terms, conditions and restrictions, established by the Administrator, which prescribe actions the licensee must take in the conduct of exploration activities to assure protection of the environment. The Administrator will establish these pursuant to §970.702.

(b) Before establishing the terms, conditions and restrictions pertaining to environmental protection, the Administrator will consult with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating. He also will take into account and give due consideration to the information contained in the final EIS prepared with respect to that proposed license.

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§970.519   Resource conservation requirements.

For the purpose of conservation of natural resources, each license issued under this part will contain, as needed, terms, conditions and restrictions which have due regard for the prevention of waste and the future opportunity for the commercial recovery of the unrecovered balance of the hard mineral resources in the license area. The Administrator will establish these pursuant to §970.603.

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§970.520   Freedom of the high seas requirements.

Each license issued under this part must include such restrictions as may be necessary and appropriate to ensure that the exploration activities do not unreasonably interfere with the interests of other nations in their exercise of the freedoms of the high seas, as recognized under general principles of international law, such as fishing, navigation, submarine pipeline and cable laying, and scientific research. The Administrator will consider the provisions in §970.503 in establishing these restrictions.

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§970.521   Safety at sea requirements.

The Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, in consultation with the Administrator, will require in any license issued under this part, in conformity with principles of international law, that vessels documented under the laws of the United States and used in activities authorized under the license comply with conditions regarding the design, construction, alteration, repair, equipment, operation, manning and maintenance relating to vessel and crew safety and the promotion of safety of life and property at sea. These requirements will be established with reference to subpart H of this part.

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§970.522   Monitoring requirements.

Each exploration license must require the licensee:

(a) To allow the Administrator to place appropriate Federal officers or employees as observers aboard vessels used by the licensee in exploration activities to:

(1) Monitor such activities at such time, and to such extent, as the Administrator deems reasonable and necessary to assess the effectiveness of the terms, conditions, and restrictions of the license; and

(2) Report to the Administrator whenever such officers or employees have reason to believe there is a failure to comply with such terms, conditions, and restrictions;

(b) To cooperate with such officers and employees in the performance of monitoring functions; and

(c) To monitor the environmental effects of the exploration activities in accordance with a monitoring plan approved and issued by the Administrator as license terms, conditions and restrictions, and to submit such information as the Administrator finds to be necessary and appropriate to assess environmental impacts and to develop and evaluate possible methods of mitigating adverse environmental effects. This environmental monitoring plan and reporting will respond to the concerns and procedures discussed in Subpart G of this part.

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§970.523   Special terms, conditions, and restrictions.

Although the general criteria and standards to be used in establishing terms, conditions, and restrictions for a license are set forth in this part, as referenced in §§970.517 through 970.522, the Administrator may impose special terms, conditions, and restrictions for the conservation of natural resources, protection of the environment, or the safety of life and property at sea when required by differing physical and environmental conditions.

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§970.524   Other Federal requirements.

Pursuant to §970.211, another Federal agency, upon review of an exploration license application submitted under this part, may indicate how terms, conditions, and restrictions might be added to the license, to assure compliance with any law or regulation within that agency's area of responsibility. In response to the intent, reflected in section 103(e) of the Act, to reduce the number of separate actions to satisfy the statutory responsibilities of these agencies, the Administrator may include such terms, conditions, and restrictions in a license.

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