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Mysterious Oil Spill Shuts Down Chicago River's Bubbly Creek

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Oct 27, 2017 5:50PM

A view of downtown along the Bubbly Creek of the South Branch of the Chicago River (Photo by via the Chicagoist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down a portion of the Chicago River after black sludge from an oil spill washed up on the riverbanks.

A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan said at 5 p.m. on Thursday that the agency had established a "safety zone" at the historic South Fork of the Chicago River's South Branch, according to the Chicago Tribune. The agency is coordinating with the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a clean-up of the oil spill.

ABC7 reports that the affected area includes the portion of Bubbly Creek that runs south from the south branch of the Chicago River to Pershing Road, east of Ashland. More oil was found on the south branch of the River between Ashland and Pulaski Road, the Coast Guard said. The EPA set up a containment boom at the entrance to Bubbly Creek.

Rowers who come to the Chicago Park District Boathouse daily told ABC7 that they spotted oil on the banks and some of it coated their boat. There are several reports of geese being coated in oil, too, in the mile-long spill, DNA Info reports.

Where the oil spill originated isn't known at this point. Bubbly Creek runs through Bridgeport and isn't known for being a particularly clean stretch of the Chicago River—it gets its name for the pollution from the Union Stock Yards that set up shop there for over a decade through the 1970s. But the river hasn't been polluted with an oil spill before.