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Coast Guard says Manitowoc spilled 1,500 gallons of diesel into Lake Michigan

UPDATE 8/21/23 11:15 a.m.

The Coast Guard said Monday that approximately 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel was released from the vessel Manitowoc into Lake Michigan on Aug. 2.

The investigation into the cause of the diesel spill is ongoing.


Before departing the Port of Manistee, the Manitowoc conducted and recorded initial tank soundings. After conducting temporary repairs, the crew again took soundings. A comparison of these two measurements revealed approximately 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel was released into Lake Michigan, the Coast Guard said. The vessel carried approximately 45,000 gallons.

The Coast Guard, state, local and tribal representatives have reported no impacts to the shoreline. There are no known impacts to marine wildlife and no reports of diesel in the area where the spill occurred, officials said. All diesel fuel is believed to have dissipated and evaporated without sinking into the water.

8/7/23 4:30 p.m.

The District Health Department #10 announced that all beach advisories in Manistee County relating to the diesel fuel spill have been lifed as of Monday.


“Thanks to all of the work from the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as numerous other state and local agencies, we’re lifting the beach advisories in Manistee County,” said DHD#10 Environmental Health Supervisor Matt Fournier. “We appreciate the community’s effort and adherence to these advisories during the containment and cleanup process.”

8/4/23 4:57 p.m.

As of Friday, the United States Coast Guard said there is no visible sheen on Lake Michigan anymore due to the diesel spill and that there is no known or expected impact on drinking water.

“At this time, the swimming area at 5th Avenue Beach and North Beach access in Manistee are open for swimming and recreational use,” said DHD#10 Environmental Health Supervisor Matt Fournier. “However, we are continuing to ask residents inside and outside of city limits to exercise caution and report any confirmed sightings or contact with diesel fuel on the shoreline within Manistee County by calling (231) 723-6241.”


The District Health Department #10 said that there has been no reported shoreline impacts from the fuel, but that coast guard and other state and local agencies are still continuing to monitor the situation.

RELATED: Coast Guard clears Manitowoc to travel to Muskegon for repairs

8/3/23 6 p.m.

A no contact order was issued for the 5th Avenue Beach Thursday afternoon, and it took many people there by surprise.


District Health Department #10 said that the no contact order was just issued as a precaution.

“There was a diesel fuel release off of the coast of Manistee. The projected first point where it could potentially make landfall onto a beach would be 5th Avenue Beach,” Matt Fornier the Environmental Health Supervisor for the District Health Department #10 said.

Nearby 1st Street Beach and manmade beach are not part of the contact order.

“The spill occurred north or northwest of manmade beach and 1st Street Beach, so it’s not going to impact those beaches,” Fornier said.

While some people knew about the fuel leak, others at the beach did not, but everyone was taken by surprise when there was a no contact order issued. And while it was disappointing, most of the people there took it in stride.

“We were just going to come and swim and be at the beach for a couple of hours,” Chris Packard, who was visiting from out of town, said. “And then we were going to go explore Manistee, but now it looks like we’re going to go to Ludington for the day.”

He said that they had just got out of the car and wondered why nobody was in the water. That’s when they noticed the signs posted about the no contact water advisory.

“We just walked in and we got out of the car, and we kind of said, ‘why isn’t anybody in the water?’ And then we looked and it’s posted, we just decided we’ll go maybe try to find another beach,” Packard said.

Other people, like Carol Schrauben, who is also visiting Manistee, said the no contact order didn’t make a difference to her day.

“I wasn’t gonna go in the water anyway, so I didn’t pertain to me. But I felt bad for everyone with the little kids that had to pick up and leave,” Schrauben said.

Schrauben said she’s also concerned for the wildlife that may be affected, but the health department says it should not be that much of a concern.

“We’re asking that the public try not to rescue or save wildlife from anything that they find that’s been exposed to this. I’m not an expert, but the size of this does not seem to be anything that would affect wildlife like you’ve seen in the Alaskan oil spills,” Fornier said.

Health Department #10 also said that if you see any diesel fuel to stay away from it and to notify authorities.

The Coast Guard is still investigating the cause of the leak.

8/3/23 4:42 p.m.

The Coast Guard, along with several local and state agencies have been cleaning up a diesel spill from a ship in Lake Michigan near Manistee.

The spill happened Wednesday afternoon after the hull of the motor vessel, the Manitowac, reported a breach on its starboard diesel tank, spilling gallons of diesel into the waters.

“The vessel departed Manistee around 2:50 p.m. in the afternoon. As the vessel was making transit out of the port, getting underway inside the lake. Outside the lake, they started noticing their fuel gauges rising and taking off, so they had a hole breach to the side of their starboard fuel tank,” Captain Seth Park, the Lake Michigan Sector Commander, USCG, said.

A press conference held by the Coast Guard said that the vessel is no longer leaking, and that the U.S. Coast Guard is working to clean up the spill, but have had to call that off due to weather conditions right now.

The maximum amount spilled could be more than 45,000 gallons of fuel into the water as that’s how much fuel the ship had on board when they left port. But they estimate it to be in the thousands.

A sheen can be seen between Portage Lake and Portage Point Wood Reserve.

The coast guard said the spill is heading northeast and that most of it will dissipate. They also said they are working with partner agencies to mitigate environmental impact and protect wildlife that may be affected.

A no contact water advisory was also issued at 5th Avenue Beach, taking people already at the beach by surprise. Some packed up and left while others stayed. The District Health Department #10 said this advisory was just a precaution.

“The projected first point where it could potentially make landfall onto a beach would be 5th Avenue Beach,” Matt Fournier from District Health Department #10 said.

Health Department #10 also said that if you see any diesel fuel to stay away from it and to notify authorities.

The cause of the leak is still under investigation.

8/3/23 10:11 a.m.

U.S. Coast Guard personnel, along with state and local agencies are responded Wednesday to a report of the motor vessel Manitowoc spilling diesel in Lake Michigan, nearly 1.5 nautical miles (~1.7 miles) offshore of Manistee.

Near 2:50 p.m. on Wednesday, the 612′ bulk carrier motor vessel Manitowoc reported a hull breach on its starboard diesel tank. The maximum spill potential is 45,174 gallons of diesel.

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 nearly 1.6 miles by 200 yards wide to the northeast from the vessel within a few hours of the report.

The motor vessel Manitowoc has activated their response plan and their diesel spill removal organization is on scene at this time 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 U.S. 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.

9:30 p.m.

The United States Coast Guard said that an estimated 1,000 gallons of diesel spilled, but that it is heading northeast and most of it is going to dissipate.

According to the USCG, Grand River Navigation’s crew was on the scene and used a 4,000-foot containment boom on the fuel. The ship has also been plugged with a temporary plug, and all the fuel has been removed.

The USCG said that there is no known impact to beaches or drinking water at this time, but they are removing the no contact order of 5th Avenue Beach. They would still like to remind people that it is not safe to smell or touch the product.

They are asking people to contact the non-emergency line for the city of Manistee at 231-723-6241 if they see anything.

8/2/23 7:13 p.m.

The United States Coast Guard is asking people to stay off 5th Avenue Beach in Manistee due to a diesel fuel leak from the M/V Manitowoc which is just off shore.

Around 5:15 p.m., the USCG responded to a report of the ship leaking diesel fuel. When they arrived, the coast guard deployed an absorbent boom to contain the fuel in the area. The USCG also partially plugged the damaged tank to slow down the leaking of the fuel.

The USCG is asking people to stay away from the beach since current wind conditions are expected to push the spilled fuel to shore.

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