Coast Guard Study Finds Rules Are Adequate For Electric Fish Barrier - PassageMaker

Coast Guard Study Finds Rules Are Adequate For Electric Fish Barrier

A new Coast Guard study showed that the rules governing vessel traffic across Chicago’s electric fish barrier effectively address the risks posed by the barrier’s electrified waters.
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A new Coast Guard study showed that the rules governing vessel traffic across Chicago’s electric fish barrier effectively address the risks posed by the barrier’s electrified waters.

The demonstration barrier uses 13 bundled steel cables (shown at left) to generate the electric field at that barrier. One of the improvements incorporated into the design of Barriers IIA and IIB was to use 32 solid steel bars (shown at right) for each barrier for a total of 64 electrodes in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Romeoville, Ill., Oct. 28, 2011. The solid steel bars will corrode less over time, which reduces the frequency of replacement. The electric barriers operate by pulsing electricity into the water along electrodes secured to the bottom of the canal. (U.S. Army Photo by Sarah Gross/Released)

The demonstration barrier uses 13 bundled steel cables (left) to generate the electric field. One of the improvements incorporated into the design of Barriers IIA and IIB is to use solid steel bars (right) for a total of 64 electrodes in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. (U.S. Army Photo by Sarah Gross/Released)

The study by the Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center found that existing regulations substantially mitigate the risks associated with the barrier, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

Although the total risk associated with the barrier was deemed relatively low, certain scenarios presented markedly higher risks, such as a person falling into the water and being shocked. The report makes recommendations that could further reduce the risks.

“Our primary mission is to safeguard people and vessels operating on the navigable waters of the United States,” Cmdr. Scott Anderson, chief of inspections and investigations for the Coast Guard Ninth District, said in a Coast Guard News story. “Studies like these help confirm that existing regulations meet this goal and highlight areas where we can continue to improve public safety while facilitating marine commerce.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, in which the Coast Guard partners with 15 other agencies to rehabilitate the ecosystem’s health and prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes, funded the study.

A 3D model of the canal shows the placement of electrified elements. (Click to enlarge)

A 3D model of the canal shows the placement of electrified elements. (Click to enlarge)

The electric fish barrier system in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal was built and is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp, between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

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