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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: August 31, 2010

CONTACT:
Carroll M. Brown, Jr., (603) 271-3000

DES to Test Oil Spill Protection Strategies on Little Bay and in Furber Strait, Newington on September 8 and 9

Concord, NH – On September 8 and 9, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) will be conducting tests of oil spill protection strategies on Little Bay and in Furber Strait in Newington. These strategies are intended to prevent oil from entering Great Bay, should an oil spill occur in the Piscataqua River. These tests were originally scheduled for August 25 and 26, but were postponed to finalize details with the US Coast Guard.

Great Bay is New Hampshire’s largest and most complex estuary; it is a habitat for numerous wildlife species. If a large oil spill was to occur, and the Great Bay Estuary was significantly impacted, the results could be catastrophic.

DES has been working with many local, state and federal partners, to develop geographic response strategies that will minimize the environmental impact of oil spills in the coastal area. In order to determine whether the proposed strategies will be effective, it is necessary to deploy the oil spill containment booms and evaluate how they are affected by tidal influences. The results of this testing will be used to modify and finalize the design of this strategy.

On September 8, 5,100 feet of oil spill boom, consisting of six booms of differing lengths, will deployed in the area of Goat Island and Fox Point and Furber Strait. On September 9, 3,600 feet of oil spill boom, consisting of four booms of differing lengths, will be deployed in the area of Cedar Point and Furber Strait. The deployments will begin at approximately 7 a.m. each day and be complete by approximately 4 p.m. If it is determined that additional testing is required, this will occur on October 6 and 7.

Due to the configuration of the protection strategies, the oil boom will close off the main portion of the navigation channel in these areas. The US Coast Guard has created a Temporary Regulated Navigation Area and Temporary Interim Rule to assure safe passage during the time of the test. DES will provide three vessels on scene for oversight of the operation, and will work with its federal and state partners to facilitate vessel traffic around the area. USCG staff from Portsmouth will also be on hand, as will the USCG Auxiliary; they will provide two perimeter safety and security vessels.

DES will leave approximately 11 mooring balls (32 inches diameter) in place as part of a 30-day trial period following boom strategy testing on September 8 and 9. The trial period is intended to allow the public to provide input on the moorings. At the end of the trial period, DES will be prepared to relocate or remove moorings as required to facilitate safe navigation through the area; however, the moorings do not need to be automatically removed after 30 days.

The Coast Guard will review input from local waterway users, summarize comments, and respond with a formal determination on whether the proposed buoys/locations are acceptable and what, if any, alternatives need to be explored.

You may submit comments in the Federal Register identified by docket number USCG-2010-0666 using any one of the following methods:

  1. Federal Rulemaking web portal: http://www.regulations.gov
  2. Fax: (202) 493-2251
  3. Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), US Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  4. Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. The telephone number is (202) 366-9329.

If you have questions on viewing the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, (202) 366-9826.

You may also submit comments directly to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services at the following:

Carroll M. Brown, Jr.
Coastal Oil Spill Response Coordinator
NH Department of Environmental Services
29 Hazen Drive; PO Box 95
Concord, NH 03302-0095
Office: (603) 271-3000; Cell phone: (603) 724-0624
Fax: (603) 271-2181 or 0653
carroll.brownjr@des.nh.gov

For further information and for maps of the oil spill strategies to be tested, please contact Carroll Brown, Jr. at (603) 271-3000.

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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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