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Health, Science and Environment

Coast Guard says pipeline leak poses “low risk” to wildlife, fisheries, and humans

Kate Ter Haar

Efforts are continuing at the Straits of Mackinac to assess the damages of a roughly 600-gallon leak of dielectric fluid from power lines running under the Straits.

At the time of the break, officials say there was as much as four thousand gallons of fluid in the lines.

Ensign Pamela Manns is with the Coast Guard, which is helping to oversee spill response. She said the pipe is not known to be leaking at this time.

“The responsible party is using a vacuum to remove whatever excess oil is in the pipes.”

Manns said the Coast Guard will monitor the area for impacts from the pollution, but the risk is low.

“It’s a low risk to fisheries and wildlife because not only is the product itself low risk, it’s diluting from the pipe and mixing with water.”

Manns said the Coast Guard doesn’t think the fluid will have a negative impact on humans, either.

Liz Kirkwood is with the environmental group, For the Love of Water. She said the response to this leak should raise concerns about the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline - which is also beneath the straits.


“We are understanding from the agencies that there will be no recovery of these dielectric fluids. That remains very concerning.”

Officials with the Coast Guard say they don’t know when the cleanup process will be complete.