Coast Guard, partner agencies respond to utility line leak in Straits of Mackinac

SAULT STE MARIE, Mich. — The Coast Guard, in coordination with local, state and federal partners, is working with the American Transmission Company to respond to a leak from a utility line in the Straits of Mackinac, approximately two miles west of the Mackinac Bridge.

The Coast Guard received notification that an electrical line cased with mineral oil might be leaking into the Straits of Mackinac yesterday afternoon. Upon notification, Coast Guard crews traveled to the area to investigate, and a Coast Guard helicopter crew conducted an overflight but neither detected an oil sheen.

The utility line’s owner, the American Transmission Company, determined that there is a leak in the utility line that crosses the Straits of Mackinac, approximately 12,000 to 15,000 feet off shore. The leaking product is composed predominately of mineral oil which is used to insulate the utility line. American Transmission Company has taken action to control the leak including securing the utility line which is currently inoperable. There is no impact to power supply to the local communities. The cause of the leak is currently under investigation.

Coast Guard Sector Sault Sainte Marie personnel are working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, local tribes, and county emergency managers to oversee the pollution response.

“Safety of the public and our responders is our top priority,” said Captain Marko Broz, U.S. Coast Guard Federal On Scene Coordinator. “We are further committed to protecting the environment and ensuring a proactive response.”

“The DEQ is working closely with the American Transmission Company and federal, state, local, and tribal partners to coordinate an efficient response, protect the natural resources of the Great Lakes, and ensure public health and safety,” said Scott Schaefer of Michigan DEQ.

Coast Guard responders will remain on scene and continue to coordinate with partner agencies and the American Transmission Company in response to the spill.

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