Friday, July 20, 9:06 a.m.
The U.S. Coast Guard released a statement this morning declaring that the diesel fuel tanks onboard the sunken dredge, the Arthur J, have been secured and that no more diesel fuel is spilling into Lake Huron:
All the fuel valves and vents on the Arthur J have been plugged.
The Arthur J has ten vents to its fuel tank and responders where able to plug four of them early Thursday afternoon, but six remained open until responders were able to plug them late Thursday night.
The impact to the shoreline has been minimal; however there is visible sheening along the shores of Lakeport, but there has been no report of a thick product wash ashore. However, there is still a strong diesel odor in the air, so residents and visitors of the lower Lake Huron area are encouraged to avoid areas where there is an odor in the air.
Thursday, July 19, 12:26 p.m.
Mlive.com reports that if storms do not let up, all 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel will get into Lake Huron.
The Michigan Department of Enviromental Quality is monitoring the situation from the periphery, and spokesman Brad Wurfel said ongoing storms may limit the effectiveness of the containment boom.
"We're hoping to recover all we can," he said. "But it's anticipated that if the storms do not let up, it's best to plan on the idea that all 1,500 gallons will get into the lake."
The weather, the weight of the fuel, wind direction and underwater currents make it difficult to predict where the fuel may head. Some local beaches may see a sheen, Wurfel said, but the "environmental impact is not expected to be catastrophic."
"The upside is, it's a big lake. A lot of this will dissipate."
St. Clair County officials have closed all public beaches on Lake Huron as a precautionary measure, according to health education and planning director Jennifer Michalul.
A local hazmat team and fire crew are aiding the Coast Guard, which has established 100-yard safety zone around the periphery of the oil sheen.