U.S. Department of Agriculture workers look along Bubbly Creek for birds and animals in need of help after an oil spill. | Friends of the Chicago River photo

EDITORIAL: Bubbly Creek oil spill shows why we need EPA

SHARE EDITORIAL: Bubbly Creek oil spill shows why we need EPA
SHARE EDITORIAL: Bubbly Creek oil spill shows why we need EPA

With rumors again swirling that the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency might close its Region 5 office here in Chicago, the recent mile-long oil spill in Bubbly Creek on the South Side reminded us why that would be a terrible idea.


When someone saw an oil-encrusted goose and alerted authorities last week, Region 5 scientists swung into action. Donning yellow jumpsuits in the chilly, damp Chicago weather, they set out to take samples, track the source of the leak and stop the oil from spreading downstream on the Chicago River. Their investigation will continue until they find the source of the leak. If it is broken pipe, it could still be leaking oil into the environment.

Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service workers showed up to decontaminate geese, ducks and other birds — and at least one turtle — that were encrusted with oil. The U.S. Coast Guard closed off the creek to people and boats.

Environmental disasters, big and small, are unpredictable. The more quickly the government responds, the easier it is to contain the problem and the smaller the cost of cleaning it up.

The Trump administration has to this point shown little interest in environmental safeguards. Chicagoans have reason to worry the EPA offices here could be closed at some point.

The Bubbly Creek leak showed why we need a staff of seasoned experts close at hand to step in when they are needed.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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