Part of Chicago River closed due to oil spill

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Part of the Chicago River has been closed due to a reported oil spill, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

On Thursday, representatives from the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency responded to a report of an oil discharge in the area known as Bubbly Creek, which runs south from the south branch of the Chicago River to Pershing Road, east of Ashland. Another concentration of oil was identified on the south branch of the Chicago River between Ashland and Pulaski Road, the Coast Guard said.

Rowers come to the Chicago Park District Boathouse every day to use the river but one coach told ABC7 Eyewitness News they've been told to stay out of the water for at least a week, effectively ending their season.

Oil has covered some of the banks of Bubbly Creek where the boathouse sits, and can still be seen in the water. People said they saw geese covered in oil earlier Thursday as well.

The EPA is coordinating the recovery and cleanup and has deployed a containment boom at the entrance to Bubbly Creek, officials said. The Coast Guard does not know where the oil came from.

The coach said this stretch of the creek and river isn't the cleanest, but the black mess in the water is a first.

The Coast Guard said it has established a safety zone, closing this section of the waterway to all people and vessels. The safety zone will not affect the south branch of the Chicago River, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, or the associated turning basin.

The Coast Guard asks that anyone observing additional oil contact the National Response Center at 800-424-8802.
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