Michigan official: Tugboat damaged Great Lakes pipelines | National

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) Recent damage to underwater oil and electrical lines in the waterway connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan that's blamed for an insulation fluid spill was caused by a tugboat dragging its anchor, Michigan's attorney general said Tuesday.

Attorney General Bill Schuette said he notified VanEnkevort Tug & Barge that he's planning civil action against the company because of the damage believed to have been caused April 1 by the tug named Clyde S. VanEnkevort in the Straits of Mackinac.

"The vessel ignored markers in the channel and clearly identified hazards on navigational charts that make clear that an anchor should not be deployed in this area of Straits," Schuette said in a statement.

Company spokesman Darrell Wilson acknowledged that a tug and barge belonging to VanEnkefort, based in Escanaba, Michigan, were among vessels that transited the straits area the day the damage happened.

"We are fully participating with all relevant authorities as they conduct the investigation," Wilson said in a statement, adding that it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Wilson did not confirm or deny Schuette's contention that the vessel deployed an anchor while passing through the straits or that it was to blame for the damage.

The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the investigation, joined by other state and federal agencies. Spokeswoman Ensign Pamela Manns said the probe was continuing and declined comment on Schuette's announcement.

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