An oil sheen on 1.5 miles of the St. Joe River is restricting boating traffic on the river and at the Aqua Park beach and boat launch in St. Maries.
“As a precaution, we are asking people to avoid the area,” said St. Maries Fire Chief Larry Naccarato. “Please avoid any contact with nearby water.”
The sheen was reported Monday morning, and appears to be from motor oil or grease, said Judy Smith, a spokeswoman from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The boat launch and park have been shut down until further notice.
Absorbent booms have been placed in four locations along the St. Joe River to minimize any further spread. Authorities are still investigating the origin of the oil sheen and will continue to monitor the conditions.
“It shouldn’t be a long-term cleanup,” Smith said. With the Labor Day holiday and the town’s Paul Bunyan Days celebration coming up, getting the cleanup done is a priority, she said.
Local law enforcement, Panhandle Health District, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, EPA and the Department of Environmental Quality are working together on the issue.
If residents have any further information in regards to the origin of the oil sheen, they should call the St. Maries Police Department at (208) 245-5102.
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