A story in the Detroit Free Press points out that significant wave heights could hamper recovery of oil after a spill from Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline.
Under high wave conditions, crucial offshore spill containment response might have to be put off for hours, or even days because of unsafe boating conditions, the responders say. That would delay the deployment of spill-containing boom, or the use of skimmers to remove oil from the water's surface. And that would allow the ecological calamity to spread.
“When you get above 3-, 4-, 5-foot seas — definitely at 5 feet — you are beyond where you can safely deploy these things and have them do any good,” - Jerry Popiel, incident management adviser for the Coast Guard’s 9th District, which includes the Great Lakes.