British Columbia

New bid to clear Prince George ice jam

A new effort is underway to unclog a 5.5 kilometre-long ice jam along the Nechako River in Prince George, B.C.

A new effort is underway to unclog a 5.5 kilometre-long ice jam along the Nechako River in Prince George, B.C.

A floating excavator, which resembles a barge with a shovel attached to the front, has been brought in from Montreal to help push out the mounds of ice from the river.

City clerk Don Schaffer said the vessel, called an Amphibex, will attempt to break up the foot of the jam, where the water is backed up at the juncture of the Fraser and Nechako rivers.

A channel, about three-and-a-half kilometres long, was recently formed along the Fraser River.

"There was nowhere in the Fraser for that ice to go," said Schaffer. "We could have broken that ice jam up six ways from Sunday but it didn't have anywhere to flow. Now that there's a break, pieces of ice will flow downstream."

The Amphibex is expected to operate up to 24 hours a day, depending on river conditions. Schaffer said it's hard to tell how long the efforts will continue, but he expects the machine will be on the water for at least 10 days.

Pipeline being constructed

At the same time, officials plan to tackle the ice jam by building a 2.7-kilometre pipeline between the river and the Canfor pulp mill to run unprocessed hot water from its steam plant.

The water will be pointed half way up the jam and then mixed with ground water to bring it down to 15 C to help soften the ice.

Schaffer said over the last few days, there's been little change along the river.

"We haven't seen any rising or falling water; the jam has been fairly consistent," he said. "Everyone's excited to have the Amphibex in the water and to be at the point where we're going to start putting the pipeline together."

The ice jam, which formed Dec. 11, has caused flooding to several homes and businesses in Prince George. Currently, 20 houses are on evacuation order.

With files from the Canadian Press

now