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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 55° Partly Cloudy
News >  Idaho

Oil spill closes St. Joe River; origin sought

From Staff Reports

An oil sheen on 1  1/2 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,” St. Maries Fire Chief Larry Naccarato said in a news release. “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 still are investigating the origin of the oil sheen.

“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, the Panhandle Health District, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, EPA and the Department of Environmental Quality are working together on the issue.

Residents who have information on the origin of the oil sheen are asked to call the St. Maries Police Department at (208) 245-5102.

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