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'Mystery Oil Spill' Near Bubbly Creek Covers Geese, Closes Park, EPA Says

By Joe Ward | October 26, 2017 3:14pm | Updated on October 26, 2017 5:34pm
 Crews clean up debris from the Chicago River at Eleanor Street Boathouse, 28282 S. Eleanor St.
Crews clean up debris from the Chicago River at Eleanor Street Boathouse, 28282 S. Eleanor St.
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DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung

BRIDGEPORT — A "mystery oil spill" was spotted on the south branch of the Chicago River in Bridgeport Wednesday, covering geese and other birds in a sheeny oil and causing the partial closure of a local park, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The sheeny, mile-long oil-spill was seen Wednesday near the Bubbly Creek, or the stretch of the river near the Eleanor Street Boathouse, 2828 S. Eleanor St., the EPA said. It was also observed moving westward on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal towards California Avenue, the agency said on its website.

"Bubbly Creek has been secured with containment boom and cleanup is underway," the EPA said.

Crews were observed Wednesday afternoon removing the debris from near the park's dock. Geese appeared to be covered in the oil.

Christina Martinez was in her morning yoga class Wednesday at the Eleanor Street Boathouse when she and her classmates saw a black film on the Chicago River.

Then the group saw geese and ducks emerge from the river covered in a dark substance.

"All of us noticed there was some kind of film on the water," she said. "The geese coming out were all black."

Much of the path at Eleanor Street Boathouse, also known as Park 571, was closed to the public this morning, though only the dock area remained closed as of Wednesday evening.

A Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District boat was seen docked at Park No. 571 at 2828 S. Eleanor St., late Wednesday morning.

By Wednesday afternoon, a dozen geese were sitting at the park, a few of them darker than the rest. The darker ones were picking at their feathers, and one was reluctant to move.

"They're trying to lick it off their feathers, but they'll ingest it," said Martinez, a McKinley Park resident. "They can't live in the winter without their feathers. It's sad."

An incident at the Eleanor Street Boathouse has left some geese covered in a dark substance. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]