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Crews prepare to remove pontoon in Niagara River

The helicopter removal is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This week crews from the New York State Park Police plan on removing a 30 foot-long pontoon from the New York Power Authority’s ice boom along with help from the New York Army National Guard. The pontoon has been stuck at the brink of the Bridal Veil Falls for three years.

The 3,500-pound pontoon broke free from the ice boom in Lake Erie during a windstorm back in 2019 and ended up getting lodged in the upper rapids of the river. The two-day operation to remove the pontoon was scheduled a few weeks ago, but was postponed due to ice.

New York State Park Police say the pontoon does not pose an immediate safety risk, but should be removed to "preserve the integrity of the viewshed of Niagara Falls."

The swift water rescue team from New York State Park Police will prepare the boom to be lifted out of the water this week by using a CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopter. On Tuesday, divers waded into the Niagara River to inspect the boom and prepare anchors for the pontoon removal on Wednesday.

"It needs to get removed because it's close to the brink of the Bridal Veil Falls and underneath that is the Cave of the Winds attraction. So if that heaven forbid went over there that could be catastrophic. It's not a little stick that we're out there removing, it's a 3,500 pound piece of steel that could do a lot of damage," said Captain Chris Rola from the New York State Park Police.

Despite the weather Wednesday morning, the helicopter removal is still scheduled for the afternoon.

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