Crews work to clean up oil spill, help wildlife on Chicago waterway

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A mysterious oil spill has coated Bubbly Creek in Bridgeport on Friday and part of the south branch of the Chicago River.     

Crews are hoping reflective tape keeps birds away from this area near the dock where there is a high concentration of oil. 

The mile-long oil spill has federal officials baffled. 

“We still dont know what the cause of the oil was,”  Robert Kondreck, EPA on scene coordinator, said.

The oil has coated, debris, rocks and wildlife. U.S. Fish and Wildlife crews pulled a turtle and a Canadian goose covered in oil from the water Friday.

Both will be sent to a rehab center to be checked out, cleaned and eventually released.  Edward Karecki from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the spill could’ve been worse.

“We only found one dead so far and this one turtle oiled so it could be much worse in some places we have hundreds of birds to deal with so we are not dealing with hundreds,” Karecki said. “I saw four geese that were oiled a couple of great blue herons that were oiled we couldn't catch anyone of them but it could be worse. 

They are trying to keep animals away from highly contaminated areas. 

“We've also been firing some pyrotechnics which make a loud noise and scare birds away we've also been scaring them away using the boat,” Karecki said.

This is just the latest problem on the notorious creek for the wildlife and the rowing teams. 
The St. Ignatius team spotted the spill a few days ago, according to assistant coach Owen Skelding.

“You could sort of see the oil and the slickness and the sheen from it,” Skelding said. 

Bubbly Creek has a past, given its name in the early 20th century when gases bubbled up from the decomposing animal carcasses dumped in the river by employees of meatpacking plants.

EPA officials said it will take at least a week to fully remove the oil from Bubbly Creek. 

“We will be going up the creek with some crew doing some more booming if we see highly impacted areas and we will be using the absorbent pads that you see over there those guys are now picking up,” Kondreck said. 

EPA officials said the cause of the spill is not obvious. They are investigating and hope to have an answer for the source of the oil by the end of the weekend.