Coast Guard, partners continue mineral oil leak response in Straits of Mackinac

C.J. Kirwer, a contractor from T&T Subsea, stands next to a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), April 15, 2018. Weather permitting, the ROV is slated for deployment by the American Transmission Company in the next few days. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Pamela Manns).

C.J. Kirwer, a contractor from T&T Subsea, stands next to a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), April 15, 2018. Weather permitting, the ROV is slated for deployment by the American Transmission Company in the next few days. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Pamela Manns).

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. – The Unified Command has announced that the American Transmission Company is slated to deploy sonar scanning technology and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to better assess damage to the affected utility cables this week, as soon as weather conditions no longer pose a danger to responders.

ATC contracted with Durocher Marine and T&T Subsea to provide tugs, a barge, and an ROV to assess the damage to the utility cables. A tug retrofitted with sonar side-scanning technology will locate the damage in the utility cables, and the ROV will obtain underwater, visual imagery of the cables. The images obtained will provide the Unified Command with the information needed to determine how best to deal with the damaged cables.

Throughout the weekend, responders worked shoreside and continued mineral oil extraction operations. To date, more than 300 gallons of mineral oil has been extracted from the utility cables. In addition, wildlife professionals from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) Wildlife Services program conducted wildlife surveillance from land and did not observe any impacted birds or wildlife.

When weather conditions no longer pose a danger to responders, USDA-APHIS wildlife professionals, MI DEQ environmental experts, and Coast Guard marine science technicians will resume efforts to survey the area from vessels and airplanes to identify any impacts to the environment. No impacts have been identified so far.

The Coast Guard marine casualty investigation into the vessel activity that may have contributed to damage to the ATC cables and the three dents in the Enbridge pipelines is ongoing.

The Unified Command encourages the public to report any sightings of pollution or affected wildlife.

To report affected wildlife or animals acting abnormally please call the USDA at (517)-336-1928.

To report any oil sheen or pollution, please call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

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