Most anchoring now banned in Michigan waterway

After a tugboat’s anchor allegedly caused a toxic leak on April 1st in the Straits of Mackinac, between Lakes Michigan & Huron, leading Michigan governor Rick Snyder on Thursday May 24th to approve an emergency ban on most vessels dropping anchor in a Great Lakes waterway where oil, electric and other infrastructure cables rest, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The rule puts into state law a previous informal anchor restriction and was issued under the Marine Safety sections of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. It will remain in place for six months and can be renewed for another six months.

Governor Snyder said that anchoring in the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lakes Michigan and Huron posed “a serious threat to the welfare and protection of Michigan and our vital natural resources”, adding that “anchoring could cause severe environmental damage and threatens to disrupt critical energy and communication services between the Upper and Lower peninsulas. This emergency rule will help us better protect Michigan waters and residents until a permanent solution is in place.”

The eastern boundary of the no-anchor zone is defined by the Mackinac Bridge. The western boundary is defined by a line beginning at the western edge of McGulpin Point in the Lower Peninsula to the western edge of an unnamed island immediately southwest of Point La Barbe in the Upper Peninsula.

On April 1st twin oil pipelines beneath the straits were dented and about 600 gallons of mineral oil insulation fluid leaked from two electric cables. The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigated. The state attorney general said a tugboat anchor was the cause. Crews capped and sealed the leaking the cables in late April.