The fedid waterway of Bubbly Creek stretches north in this photo from the 35th Street bridge.

Lipinski Calls for Bubbly Creek Cleanup to Move Forward

Published February 1, 2018

Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) is renewing his calls for cleanup of the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River, more commonly known as Bubbly Creek. The extremely polluted waterway, which gets its name from century-old slaughterhouse sludge still pushing bubbles to the surface, suffered another befoulement by diesel oil this past fall. Lipinski said the cleanup related to this event should now allow a stalled U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to move forward.

"I would like to ensure that we are taking every feasible action to restore the creek to an ecologically healthy state," Lipinski said in a letter written to the corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). " I believe that some of the work planned for Bubbly Creek may help prevent or mitigate future oil spills and other pollution."

Bubbly Creek McKinley Park 1911 chicken on sewageA chicken stands on crusted sewage on the surface of Bubbly Creek in this 1911 photo.The $2.65 million Army Corps of Engineers project would overhaul 40 acres of land and water comprising the creek, which runs north from the Racine Avenue pump station by 38th Street to the South Branch of the Chicago River. In addition to pollution, problems that need to be addressed with the waterway include channelization and poor habitats for plants and animals. This project stalled in 2015 when the corps determined that further environmental studies and remediation would be required before moving ahead.

 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

On October 25, 2017, a diesel oil spill contaminated most of the stretch of Bubbly Creek, killing many animals and plants, polluting the water further, and even mucking up the boats and rowers practicing out of Park 571 across the river in Bridgeport. The source of this mysterious spill has yet to be determined: The EPA said that too many days passed before local residents reported the spill, which had spread too far to pinpoint a source. 

However, the EPA's cleanup and study after the oil spill should now satisfy the conditions for the corps project to move forward, Lipinski said. He is proposing a meeting in Chicago with both the corps and the EPA "for a conversation that will help identify a promising path forward for Bubbly Creek."


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