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GLIN==> Army Corps and Coast Guard Kick Off Barrier Safety Campaign (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers				 U.S. Coast Guard
Contact:  Lynne Whelan                           Lt. Corey Gardner-Meeks
Telephone:  (312) 846-5330                       630) 986-2155
E-Mail:  lynne.e.whelan@usace.army.mil

Army Corps and Coast Guard Kick Off Barrier Safety Campaign

    March 27, 2008 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard
will begin a campaign April 1st to advise boaters how to safely transit over
the electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near
Romeoville, IL. A portion of the canal near the barrier system has been a
Regulated Navigation Area for passage of vessels since 2005.

     The Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard have expanded their safety
information campaign following the findings of a draft report that indicates
the effect of the barrier's electric field on a person immersed in the
electrified water could result in serious injury or death. The Corps
commissioned the report to determine the potential effects of the barrier's
electric field should a person fall into the water. 

     "Public safety is our highest priority. Although the draft report
indicates a wide array of possible impacts, it does show that serious injury
or death is possible in worst case scenarios. Therefore, we feel that it is
critically important to make sure that people know how to pass through the
area safely. The safest thing is to keep people out of the water entirely,"
said Col. Jack Drolet, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago
District, the office responsible for building and operating the electric
barrier system. 

     The final report will not be available until later this Spring, but the
Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard have decided to begin an expanded
education and information campaign now in order to reach people before the
start of the Chicago area boating season.

     "Reaching out to commercial and recreational users we initiated a
workgroup to address the hazard of a person falling in the water within the
fish barrier," said CDR Paul Mehler III, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Coast
Guard, Marine Safety Unit Chicago.  This partnership has resulted in a
campaign involving distributing informational flyers at area locks, boat
launches, bait shops, and fuel docks, and working with local and national
boating groups to pass the information to as many boaters as possible. The
key message is to inform boaters to use extreme caution while traveling in
the Sanitary and Ship Canal between River Miles 296.1 to 296.7.  This area is
bounded approximately by the power plant near the Romeo Road bridge and an
aerial pipeline arch.  While traveling through the area, boaters are advised
to take the following precautions: 

*  Do not enter the water or place hands or feet in the water for any reason.
*  Be sure to closely supervise children and pets or send them below deck if
*  Do not linger or attempt to moor in the area.

     The Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard are working with representatives
from commercial navigation and recreational boating groups and others to find
ways to enhance safety features in the barrier area.  

     An electric barrier has been operating in the Sanitary and Ship Canal
since 2002. The purpose of the barrier system is to stop the movement of
invasive species of fish, such as the Asian carp, between the Great Lakes and
Mississippi River basins. 

     For additional information pertaining to the fish barrier please visit

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED 
Caveats: NONE

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