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Underwater Craft Headed To The Straits Of Mackinac For Damage Inspection

Apr 17, 2018

Mackinac Bridge near Straits of Mackinac
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

An electrical cable that leaked hundreds of gallons of mineral oils into the Straits of Mackinac will be inspected – as soon as the weather clears up.


Unified Command is a team of local, state, and federal officials that responded to the spill reported earlier this month.  The owner of the cable line, American Transmission Company, is also on the team. 

The plan is to send a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) under the water to inspect the line.

“Right now, because we don’t know the extent of the damage, that’s what’s so important about the ROV to actually get eyes on it and see what actually the situation is down there,” said spokesperson for Unified Command, Pamela Manns.

There are two damaged lines under the Straits of Mackinac, but only one will be investigated by Unified Command.

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 – which also runs under the Straits – was recently dented.  But Enbridge will send its own craft to inspect dents in the pipeline.

“Since they haven’t reported any pollution to the Coast Guard, there’s not response effort going on to look at those lines as well,” said Manns. 

Enbridge shut down the line Sunday due to bad weather.  A spokesperson says they restarted the line Monday afternoon.

Manns said a primary concern is mitigating pollution.

“The ROV will provide that imagery to help us plan for the future and what we’re going to do next to eliminate that pollution threat,” she said.

Manns says Unified Command will send the rover to the line as soon as the weather is better, hopefully the end of the week.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org