Comments Sought on Great Bay, NH, Mooring Balls

The Coast Guard is soliciting public comment about the locations and size of 11 mooring balls that will be left in place following the 2-day, oil-spill-prevention boom-deployment exercise run by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) ending Sept. 9, 2010. The 30-day comment period will allow local waterway users to provide feedback about how the 32-inch mooring balls have affected their navigation through the area.

Mooring ball locations.

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 to a location where they can be contained and recovered without causing damage to other areas. The oil diversion and containment is achieved by placing boom segments across the water, essentially stopping contaminants from spreading on the surface. In the past, currents were too strong to hold the boom in place across the channel.

Now, with mooring balls attached to 5,000-pound anchors, NHDES believes it has found an effective way to protect the area from a possible oil or hazardous material spill. The first test of this latest strategy takes place September 8 and 9. 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 remove the boom but leave the 11 mooring balls in the waterway for 30 days while the Coast Guard gathers public comment on how the mooring balls affect navigation. The balls are rigid, white floats that are 32 inches in diameter, with a blue stripe around the center.

The fixed mooring balls will enable the boom to be deployed within hours following a spill. Public comments and feedback on these proposed moorings will help the Coast Guard determine whether these mooring locations impede safe navigation through the area.

The proposed locations of the mooring balls are as follows:

  • 7 moorings are located in the Furber Strait just north of Great Bay.
  • 3 are located between Fox Point and Goat Island.
  • 1 lies off of Dover Point in the vicinity of the General Sullivan Bridge.

Other Information:

When submitting comment, go to Regulations.gov.

Please include the following information in your comments:

  • 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.