Thick ice persists; slows ice boom removal

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Work on the ice boom continues, but slowly, according to Lou Paonessa, spokesman for the New York Power Authority.

Sections of the ice boom are being opened initially rather than being removed due to thick ice adjacent to the boom. The ice thickness is still three feet in spots.

An ice cutter has accompanied the barge during some of this process, which is not unusual, according to Paonessa.

“Crews were able to open 500 feet on April 29 and another 1,500 feet was opened Wednesday.”

Work was slowed by a strong wind Tuesday. Favorable weather conditions Wednesday and Thursday have allowed for more of the steel pontoons to be reoriented so that more of the ice pack will start to make its way down the Niagara River.

The International Niagara Board of Control of the International Joint Commission has been responsible for the installation, operation, removal and maintenance of the boom since 1964. It runs from the outer breakwall at the Buffalo Harbor then northward to near the Canadian shore. The latest ice boom removal on record is May 3 and is removed or opened, when less than 250 square miles of ice remain at the eastern end of the lake.

The boom is comprised of a series of floating pontoons each 30 feet long. There are 22 spans consisting of up to 11 pontoons. When in place it stretches across the outlet of Lake Erie two miles upstream of the Peace Bridge.

The primary purpose of the ice boom is to significantly reduce the amount of lake ice entering into the Niagara River, thus reducing the chance for shoreline property damage and blockages at the hydro-electric power plant water intakes while allowing water to flow underneath.

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