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Stranded ship raises concerns over dredging | News

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Stranded ship raises concerns over dredging

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM)-  A potential disaster was avoided over the weekend on Lake Michigan but it's drawing attention to an ongoing problem with dredging along the shore.  The commercial ship called the Invincible was stranded after it hit a sand bar off the coast of Manistee Saturday morning.

The Invincible is almost 600 feet long. It carries 49,000 gallons of Diesel fuel. It couldn't move anywhere after hitting the sand bar.

"There was potential for a life threatening situation," says Thomas O'Bryan with the Army Corps of Engineers in Grand Haven.

All 17 people on board the Invincible made it off safely.  However, O'Bryan says the accident raises a red flag.

"If we don't get funding in the future, this is going to be a more frequent occurrence," says O'Bryan.

After a long political struggle, O'Bryan says his department recently received what he calls the "bare minimum" funding for dredging.

"It's sad to have to tell harbor that they're not getting funded this year or next year to get the dredging done," says O'Bryan.

The map of Grand Haven's sand deposits shows a similar situation.  In Holland, the commercial shipping business is closed until dredging is complete this spring.

"It is becoming very difficult for them to run a normal operation and maximizing their capacity," says Lt. Commander Sean Brady, with the U.S. Coast Guard.

"If we lose that industry the price will go up for everyone. The price of power, the price for road materials, and more," says O'Bryan.

O'Bryan approved a contractor to start dredging this month.  He hopes to have the process complete along the lakeshore by May. Between May and July dredging is not allowed in Michigan in order to protect a fish breeding habitat.