Coast Guard: Coolant Leak in the Straits Will Not Harm People or Fish

“An alarm system indicated that there might be a leak of insulating fluid. We don’t know the cause.”

Questions are lingering after more than 600 gallons of synthetic oil leaked into the Straits of Mackinac.

A slew of federal and state agencies have responded and remain on scene.

American Transmission Company says this situation started Sunday when two of their six power cables under the straits began leaking coolant.

Crews spent hours draining the remaining 4,000 gallons of fluid from those two cables.

The good news, the Coast Guard says what got into the water doesn’t pose a health risk, but is that reassurance enough?

“NOAA determined that there is no impact to humans or the fisheries by the product,” Coast Guard commander Shaun Edwards said.

Edwards says the 600 gallons of coolant won’t threaten human or fish health.

“The product is a very thin product it will float on the water, it’s a clear product so it’s very difficult to see and the distance it has to travel up through the water, it will disperse as its traveling,” he said.

With that, a recovery of what spilled is not possible and the chemical will remain surfing the straits. Now crews are busy draining what’s left inside those cables

“They will pull the product for approximately three hours,”

Although there’s no immediate health risk, for many the spill is still concerning

“It’s been a real part of my life to be right here by the water,” John Childs said.

Childs has lived on the Straits since the 1950s

“I think no one should have been surprised, they’ve been in there a long time, electric lines do leak when they are insulated with chemicals, Childs said.

It’s a stark reminder of the importance of this freshwater.

“It’s still concerning because you’re putting something that has no place in a source of freshwater and we just don’t know its long term effects as well as we should,” Childs said.

“It’s very concerning. It reminds us how critical this particular area is and any kind of underground pipes under our Great Lakes and so we’re monitoring this very closely and it reinforces for me that we need to be all hands on deck in accountability in monitoring what’s happening with our water,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said.

Now there is a slight concern with how the spill could affect shorebirds because it floats on the surface, but the Coast Guard says that concern is very minimal.