Activation of the electric barrier on the Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville will be delayed, announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday.
It had been scheduled for activation by Saturday, Jan. 31. Startup may be pushed well into March.
The idea behind the barrier was to prevent or slow the spread of Asian carp and other invasives between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed.
Here's the explanation from the Army Corps.
Army Corps of Engineers announces delay in activation of new electric barrier
CHICAGO--The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will delay activation of a new electric barrier, known as Barrier IIA, in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville, Illinois.
The Army Corps had planned to activate the barrier at 1 Volt/inch by January 31st, but will delay these plans to conduct cooling system repairs. Inspection and maintenance crews preparing barrier equipment for extended use identified concerns with the condition of the cooling pipes after they de-watered the system coolant tank on January 27th.
The extent of these defects was not visible during normal maintenance checks of the filled coolant tank. Engineers charged with keeping the barrier in continuous operations recommended defective pipes be replaced prior to activation and extended use of the barrier.
The corrosion of the cooling pipes was not anticipated. The Army Corps and other subject matter experts are examining the situation to ensure cooling system repairs are completed effectively in a timely manner. The Army Corps now anticipates completing repairs and activating Barrier IIA by mid to late March if fairly favorable working conditions prevail.
The Army Corps has been operating a similar demonstration barrier in the Sanitary and Ship Canal since 2002, which remains in continuous operation. The purpose of the barrier is to block the passage of aquatic nuisance species, such as Asian carp, in order to prevent them from moving into the Great Lakes.
Chicago District Commander, Col. Vincent V. Quarles, said he regrets the delay in activating the new barrier, but he affirmed to a group of navigation and environmental stakeholders in a pre-activation teleconference on Tuesday that the Corps remains committed to keeping an electric barrier operating on the canal and to doing so safely.
"We want to make sure Barrier IIA runs safely and effectively and to that end we decided it was prudent to make repairs to the cooling system now before we put it into full time operation," Quarles said.''