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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
by Brian DeNeal
Blowing up the Mississippi's pinnacles
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Dec. 17, 2012 10:51 a.m.

When the Mississippi River is low, apparently the Army Corps of Engineers can make it lower by dynamiting the river's bottom.

In this press release from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin's office is described what must be an extreme measure: Blowing up the rock pinnacles on the bottom of the river. Who knew the mighty Mississippi had rock "fingers" pointing up? I bet this would be a fine sight to see, but it doesn't look like any of us will get the opportunity, because they are going to be blown up.

Today, Army Corps contractors will begin demolishing rock pinnacles posing a hazard to barges along a fifteen-mile stretch of river near Thebes.  Both contractors will use specialized “drill rig barges” to drill large holes into bedrock, insert blast material and remove the rock.  On Nov. 16, Durbin and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined with thirteen other Senators on a letter urging the Army Corps to prevent the job losses and negative impacts on the region’s economy that could be caused by the low water levels by demolishing the pinnacles.  As a result, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy agreed to expedite the blasting process in a meeting with Durbin and several other senators on Nov. 29.  The blasting is expected to last 30-45 days.

 

The Corps is also planning on increasing dredging along the river.  Besides the dredging machine already in use, the Corps mobilized a second dredging machine last week and has identified other dredging ships which can be used, if necessary, to keep the river open to traffic.

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