Monday, December 12, 2011

Coast Guard Issues Final Rule For Chicago Ship Canal

Dec 12: The U.S. Coast Guard issued a final rule [76 FR 77121-77125] establishing both a safety zone and a Regulated Navigation Area on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near  Romeoville, IL. This final rule places navigational, environmental, and operational restrictions on all vessels transiting the navigable waters located adjacent to and over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' electrical dispersal fish barrier system. This rule is effective in the CFR on December 12, 2011. This rule is effective with actual notice for purposes of enforcement at 5:30 pm on December 1, 2011. The Agency explains that a 30 day effective period is unnecessary in this case because the safety zone and regulated navigation area (RNA) established by this rule have been in effect and enforced on a temporary basis for the last twelve months.
    The Coast Guard indicates that, "In response to the threat of Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes and devastating the Great Lakes commercial and sport fishing industries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began in 2002 the operation of a series of electrical barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC). These barriers are located approximately 30 miles from Lake Michigan and create an electric field in the water by pulsing low voltage DC current through steel cables secured to the
bottom of the canal. Currently, three electrical barriers are in operation. These barriers are meant to prevent and reduce the dispersal of Asian carp in the CSSC.

    The Coast Guard's Ninth District Commander has determined that the electric current radiated from the electric barriers poses certain safety risks to commercial vessels, recreational boaters, and people on or in portions of the CSSC in the vicinity of the barriers. Consequently, the Coast Guard's Ninth District Commander has concluded that an RNA [regulated navigation area] is necessary to mitigate such risks."
    Access the complete final rule (click here).