Ice Jam reaches 22 Kilometers

BILL PHILLIPS Free Press
January 2008

Kept this going to show how great our technical boys are up here in PG. That was some ice jam 22 Km long and they brought that special boat in from the East and it nearly sank and it cost $220,000 so it was looking pretty grim. Until the boys at the pulp mill figured out warm water would do the trick, not hot water. Son-of-a-gun it worked too. Broke that ice jam up in 3 days.

Read this article It is simply too dangerous and too costly to keep the

Amphibex working on the Nechako ice jam.

The amphibious ice­breaker was brought in on a 10-day contract, which expired yesterday. The ever-increasing ice jam, now at more than 22 kilometres in length, was proving tough for the Amphibex, which sat idle Monday and Tuesday.

On Friday the crew of the Amphibex had some tense moments as a large section of ice broke away and hit the machine.

"A large piece of the ice jam broke free and made its way very quickly down river, banged into the Amphibex and spun it around like a top for several hundred metres," city spokesperson Kevin Brown said yesterday morning. "It was very tense. We were just lucky to get it out of the main channel."

Brown added the Amphibex crew has stated the conditions here are the worst they've ever worked in.

Another reason for not extending the Amphibex contract is that with the recent cold spell, there is no place for the ice to go once the machine breaks it free. "The ice that has come out of the lower Nechako since late last week has all jammed up at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser," said Brown. "It didn't get into the Fraser very far and didn't go down. The Fraser River has frozen over."

When the Amphibex started working 11 days ago, the weather was warmer and there was a three-kilometre channel open in the Fraser River. With the cold spell expected to turn to warmer weather by next week, keeping the Amphibex here isn't really an option either as the cost of the machine is $24,000 per day. Plus, the plan to use warm water to carve a channel through the ice should be operational today. "It has been fully constructed and tested," said Brown. "Today the water that will be dis­charged will come up to 15 degrees Celsius." Hot water can't be used as it would likely freeze as fast as it could be put on the ice. Hot water will be piped from the InterCon pulp mill and then blended with cold water before being pumped, onto the ice.

With the ice jam extending past the city boundaries, the Fraser Fort George Regional District will also become involved in the process of dealing with the problem.

Revised 2013 by Larry Gentleman