New Coast Guard facility in UP will be used to research freshwater oil spills, ways to protect Great Lakes

Research performed at a new Coast Guard facility in Sault Ste. Marie will be critical to protecting Michigan's Great Lakes.

The Coast Guard National Center of Expertise will study oil spills in freshwater. Spills in freshwater are more difficult to clean than saltwater spills.

"Cleaning up oil is a lot more complicated in freshwater than it is in saltwater, and one of the principal reasons is that saltwater contains little microorganisms that actually break down oil and eat the oil," said Sen. Gary Peters.

Peters authored legislation to create the Great Lakes NCOE, which was established in 2018. The project also has $4.5 million dollars set aside to help make the initiative a success.

"The Coast Guard will be able to pre-position equipment for cleanup at their Coast Guard station in Sault Ste Marie, and will also be able to train first responders as to how to use that equipment," Peters said.

Lake Superior State University is taking the lead on the project.

"We are at the nexus of three Great Lakes right here in Sault Ste Marie," said university President Rodney S. Hanley.