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Removal of ice boom is set to start Monday

Crews will start removing the Lake Erie ice boom Monday -- and just in time, since it broke in two this week due to rough weather.

The International Niagara Board of Control, the binational agency that controls the installation and removal of the boom, set the timing of the removal based on a number of factors, including the amount of ice in the lake. Weather permitting, removal usually takes two to three days.

The boom split in two after a connection holding two of the boom's 22 sections broke sometime this week, according to the New York Power Authority.

Power Authority spokeswoman Joanne Willmott said the two sections were in "a trailing position," still connected to the boom but pointing down the Niagara River. "We believe it's a result of high winds and wave action and the ice exerting pressure over the past few days," she said.

She said the authority first realized the breach in the 8,800-foot boom sometime after Monday. "This happens occasionally," Willmott said. "It's not terribly uncommon."

The boom, placed across the Niagara River to prevent ice chunks from flowing downriver and jamming water intakes at the authority's Niagara Power Project, is assembled by connecting the sections to buoy barrels anchored to the lake bottom.

"We're fairly confident it's not the anchor cable that broke but where the span connects to the buoy barrels," she said.

e-mail: jbonfatti@buffnews.com

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