Straits of Mackinac mineral oil leak response continues

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. – The Unified Command, comprised of the Coast Guard, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a representative of numerous Michigan tribes, and the responsible party, the American Transmission Company, are working with several other federal, state, and local agencies to continue to oversee the response to the mineral oil spill from two utility cables in the Straits of Mackinac earlier in the week.

An oil spill response organization, contracted by the American Transmission Company, has extracted approximately 50% of the mineral oil out of one of the utility cables that cross the Straits of Mackinac. Efforts to vacuum mineral oil from the two affected cables are ongoing. There is still no evidence of an ongoing release.

From a shore side facility, the OSRO is successfully vacuuming the mineral oil from a less than one-inch void in the cables that stretch three and a half miles across the Straits of Mackinac.

Members of the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, Coast Guard personnel, and a tribal representative are surveying the area via airplane, vessel, and shore to identify any signs of pollution or impacted fish and wildlife. No impacts to the environment have been identified.

The mineral oil leak in the American Transmission Company’s utility cables that may have been caused by vessel activity is under investigation. All entities responsible for active utility lines that cross the Straits have been notified by the Unified Command to ensure that all steps are taken to assess and mitigate any further damage to infrastructure or risk to public health and the environment. There have been no further indications of damage or possible pollution. However, the utility companies are continuing to conduct assessments of their infrastructure.

The National Contingency Plan designates the U.S. Coast Guard as the lead federal agency for directing and overseeing removal and cleanup efforts by the responsible party.

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