Emergency order formally bans dropping anchor in Straits of Mackinac

May 25, 2018

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Rick Snyder has approved six-month ban on ships dropping anchor in the Straits of Mackinac. It’s a response to a mishap in April that caused a mineral oil spill and damage to Enbridge Line 5. 

There are advisories on maritime maps that say ships shouldn’t drop anchor in the straits, where there’s a risk posed by the Enbridge fuel line and other infrastructure. But it’s not a regulation. In April, a ship dragged an anchor across the bottom of the straits and ruptured a utility line and dented Line 5.

“Maritime maps have been marked for some time with the Straits of Mackinac as an advisory to not drop your anchor,” says Snyder Communications Director Ari Adler, “but there’s been no rule or regulation technically prohibiting it, and so this rule now prohibits that.” 

Adler says the state is trying to get a federal rule adopted by the Coast Guard.

“That is taking a little longer than Governor Snyder would like, and, so, in the meantime, he has issued an emergency rule that will help put that prohibition in place,” he says.

Adler says the rule can be renewed for another six months, if necessary.

Environmental groups say the temporary rule is an improvement, but they also say there are exceptions within the temporary rule for undefined shipping emergencies and ships operating under tribal rules that pose a risk to the Great Lakes. They say that’s a reason why the best move would be to shut down Line 5.

A feasibility study is underway on alternatives to Line 5.