Breached bulk carrier spills diesel into Lake Michigan

(MANISTEE, Mich.) — U.S. Coast Guard personnel, along with state and local agencies, responded Wednesday to a report of the bulk carrier Manitowoc spilling diesel in Lake Michigan, approximately 1.5 nautical miles off Manistee, Mich.

At approximately 2:50 p.m., the 612-foot Manitowoc reported a hull breach on its starboard diesel tank. The maximum spill potential is 45,174 gallons of diesel.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

At the time of the report, the vessel was at anchor 1.5 nautical miles offshore, northwest of where the Manistee River enters Lake Michigan. A red slick was observed approximately 1.6 miles by 200 yards wide projecting to the northeast from the vessel within a few hours of the report.

Manitowoc activated its response plan and its diesel spill removal organization is on scene working to contain the spill. The vessel is no longer leaking diesel. Internal diesel transfers lowered the level of diesel in the leaking tank below the hole, which has been plugged.

In response to the diesel spill, a unified command has been established to oversee and direct cleanup response efforts. Representatives from the Coast Guard, the responsible party, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Manistee County Emergency Management, Benzie County Emergency Management, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Manistee and Benzie County sheriff’s offices, and the city of Manistee will be working together in this effort.

There has been no known impact to beaches at this time. However, diesel is a hazardous material and can present significant health hazards, so the public is asked to stay away from areas that have diesel and do not attempt to rescue injured wildlife. The public is asked to call (231) 723-6241 for any confirmed sighting of diesel reaching the shoreline.

There is no known or expected impact to drinking water at this time.

The cause of the diesel spill is still under investigation.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Rich Miller