Coast Guard proposes safety zone for drill ship, seeks public comment

Juneau, Alaska – The Coast Guard is proposing to establish a temporary safety zone around the drill ship Frontier Discoverer when it is anchored on location for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas between July and October 2010.

The proposed regulation is necessary to protect the safety of life, property, environment and natural resources by significantly reducing the threat of allisions, oil spills, and releases of natural gas.

These regulations are intended to restrict non-attendant vessels from an area 500 yards around the drill ship. The public comment period for this proposed temporary safety zone is open until Feb. 5.

As the principal federal maritime enforcement agency in the Arctic, the Coast Guard is tasked with carrying out its safety, security and environmental stewardship responsibilities as maritime traffic increases in the region. “I am committed to facilitating maritime safety and safeguarding our oceans, including the waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas,” said Rear Adm. Christopher Colvin, commander of the Seventeenth Coast Guard District. “This proposed safety zone will minimize risks associated with increased maritime activity.”

The proposed temporary safety zones will be at five locations in the Chukchi Sea and two locations in the Beaufort Sea. The Chukchi Sea sites are located approximately 52 to 108 miles offshore and the Beaufort Sea locations are approximately 11 to 16 miles from the coastline.

Public comments are due by Feb. 5, 2010, and may be submitted electronically through the online commenting system at: http://www.regulations.gov , or by mail to: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001. Comments may also be faxed to (202) 493-2251. The docket number for this proposed rule is USCG-2009-0955.

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