In advance of offshore development, primarily wind power, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a request for comment on a proposed change to regulations establishing new anchorage grounds in the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
In a Nov. 29 notice, the Coast Guard says the proposed changes come after receiving requests for anchorage grounds to accommodate current and future vessel traffic, improve navigation safety and because traditional anchorage areas may not be available due to planned or potential offshore wind energy development.
“As wind energy areas are developed and distribution cables installed, vessel traffic may be displaced or funneled into smaller areas, and available anchorage areas may be decreased,” said the notice.
Three anchorage areas are being considered: one in Delaware Bay, approximately 2.5 miles north of Cape Henlopen; and two in the Atlantic Ocean, one about 9.4 miles east of the coastline stretching the length of Rehoboth Bay and one about 6 miles east of the coastline stretching from Bethany to Fenwick. The ocean anchorage grounds are anticipated to be used by vessels for anchoring once offshore wind energy areas are developed, said the notice.
The Delaware Bay and River serves the ports of Wilmington, New Castle, Philadelphia, Camden-Gloucester City, N.J., and as an entry point for the port of Baltimore, Md., through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
The notice said large vessels bound for Delaware River ports often wait offshore, anchoring in unregulated areas or in various places along the dredged channel through the lower bay. Vessels anchor for a broad range of purposes including taking on stores, transferring personnel, fueling operations, or lightering, said the notice.
A separate Coast Guard press release Dec. 3, regarding a three-week increase of inspections in Delaware Bay and River, showed how many vessels travel those bodies of water and the economic importance.
The Delaware River contributes more than $77 billion in economic value each year, said the release. The river port’s facilities can receive more than 3,000 deep-draft vessels each year. There are more than 70 private and public facilities capable of servicing bulk, break bulk, and containerized cargo. Philadelphia is the largest North American port for the importing of paper, meat, cocoa beans, and fruit. The Delaware River is also the largest energy port on the East Coast.
Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. Comments, identified by docket number USCG– 2019–0822, can be submitted at regulations.gov.
Public comment extended on wind power connection proposal
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced Dec. 5 an extension of the public comment deadline on Ørsted’s proposal to connect its wind power to the grid through a transmission connection in Fenwick Island State Park. The new deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 15. This is the second month-long extension for public comment by the state.
Ørsted has proposed roughly $18 million of improvements to the state park. As proposed, improvements would include a two-story parking structure, a Route 1 pedestrian crossover connecting the bay and the ocean, an outdoor amphitheater, housing for lifeguards, a new park bathhouse, a new building for the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and an overall improvement in roadway infrastructure. According to drawings prepared by Ørsted, the connection facility would be taller than the tree line and approximately one acre in size.
According to DNREC spokesman Michael Globetti, DNREC received 1,366 electronic comments and 146 letters on the subject before it was extended.
For questions or to complete the survey, go to destateparks.com/FenwickImprovements.
Editor’s note: The extension of public comment on the Fenwick Island State Park improvements was not in the Friday, Dec. 6 edition of the Cape Gazette because DNREC did not respond in time.