Coast Guard seeks public comment on mooring ball locations in Little Bay, NH

NEWINGTON, N.H. – The Coast Guard is soliciting for public comment about the locations and size of 11 mooring balls that will be left in place following a two-day boom deployment exercise by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) ending, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010.

The 30-day comment period will allow local waterway users to provide feedback about how the 32-inch mooring balls affect their navigation through the area.

For years NHDES and other state agencies have worked to develop an effective oil spill protection strategy for the environmentally sensitive Great and Little Bays, but strong currents through the area have proved especially challenging.  The protection strategies are designed to funnel oil contaminants in a location where they could be contained recovered without causing damage to other areas.  This oil diversion and containment is achieved by placing boom segments across the water, essentially stopping contaminants from spreading on the surface with the floating, durable barrier created by the boom.  In the past, the currents were too strong to hold the boom in place across the channel.

Now with mooring balls attached to 5,000-pound anchors tethering the boom in place, NHDES believes they have found an effective way to protect the area from a possible oil or hazardous material spill.  The first test of this latest strategy is taking place September 8th and 9th. The Coast Guard has established a regulated navigation area requiring vessels to slow down and notify the on-scene Coast Guard patrol when transiting the area.

Following the boom deployment test, NHDES will leave the 11 mooring balls used to tether the boom segments in the waterway for 30 days while the Coast Guard solicits for public comment about how the mooring balls affect navigation.  All 11 moorings are rigid, white balls that are 32 inches in diameter with a blue stripe around the center.  They float on the surface of the water, suspended by chain to a 5,000-pound anchor that sits on the bottom.  After the test period for the boom deployments, only the mooring balls will remain in place; the boom itself will be removed.  The purpose of leaving the moorings in place is to enable boom to be deployed and attached to the mooring balls within hours following a spill.  Public comments and feedback about these proposed moorings will inform the Coast Guard determination about whether these mooring locations impede safe navigation through the area.

The proposed locations of the mooring balls are as follows: seven moorings are located in the Furber Strait just north of Great Bay, three are between Fox Point and Goat Island, and one lies off of Dover Point in the vicinity of the General Sullivan Bridge.  The Coast Guard is soliciting for comment and public feedback from all waterway users regarding the locations of the mooring balls.  More information can be found in a Local Notice to Mariners by going to the Web site www.navcen.uscg.gov/.

If would like to comment on this project, the Coast Guard asks that you include the following information in order to make best use of your feedback:

  • A description of how you use the waterway (e.g. fishing, recreational, tour guide, law enforcement, etc);
  • Areas where you typically operate;
  • Frequency of how often you are in the area;
  • Specific feedback about your experience navigating in/around the NHDES moorings.

You can send comments about mooring ball locations in any of the following ways:

Docket Management Facility (M-30),
U.S. Department of Transportation,
West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140,
1200 Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590-0001

  • Online: To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, click on the “submit a comment” box, which will then become highlighted in blue.  In the “Document Type” drop down menu select “Proposed Rule” and insert “USCG-2010-0666” in the “Keyword” box.  Click “Search” then click on the balloon shape in the “Actions” column.  If you submit comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8½ by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you have questions on viewing the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

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