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Coast Guard investigating mineral oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. -- The Unified Command which is comprised of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Coast Guard and a representative of numerous Michigan tribes as well as the American Transmission Company, is now working with several federal, state and local agencies to oversee the response of the mineral oil spill from two utility cables in the Straits of Mackinac that occurred earlier this week.

The American Transmission company contracted an oil spill response organization which has now extracted nearly 50% of the mineral oil out of one of the utility cables that crosses the Straits.

Now officials say efforts to vacuum mineral oil from the two affected cables are still ongoing. There is no evidence of ongoing mineral spills at this time.

According to an off shore facility, the OSRO is successfully vacuuming the mineral oil from a void that is not even an inch wide. The cables the oil resides in stretch three and a half miles across the Straits of Mackinac.

Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service as well as members of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist are joining the Unified Command in surveillance efforts via airplane, vessels and shoreline viewing areas in order to identify possible pollution or affected wildlife. No visible impacts to the environment have yet been identified.

The mineral oil leak is under investigation, and all entities responsible for the active utility lines have been notified by the Unified Command to ensure that all steps are taken to mitigate further damage to infrastructure or possible risk to public health and safety.

There are no indications of further damage or pollution, but utility companies are continuing to assess the infrastructure.

According to officials the National Contingency Plan designates the U.S. Coast Guard as the lead federal agency for directing and oversight of removal and cleanup efforts by the responsible party.

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