The U.S. Coast Guard said it received notification of the spill at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.
According to the Coast Guard, 5,300 gallons of oil was spilled into the St. Marys side of Sugar Island.
“No injuries or deaths have been reported by Algoma Steel,” the release read. “The Coast Guard is requesting all traffic to stay clear of the impacted area.”
Captain Anthony Jones, Commander, Sector Sault Sainte Marie said, the coast guard is “working in lock-step with our Canadian, American, and tribal partners to ensure the sanctity of our river.”
Meanwhile, Algoma Public Health has issued an advisory warning those who get their water directly from the St. Marys River not to drink it.
“Please be advised that if your drinking water intake is located in the St. Marys River downstream (East) of Algoma Steel Inc. and Great Lakes Power and/or you have dug a well close to the shoreline there may be risk of contamination resulting from this spill.”
Algoma Public health said those affected should not drink, swim, bathe or shower in the water and should use alternative water sources like bottled water.
The public should also “restrict pet and livestock access to the water.”
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The health unit is also advising the public not to use the river for “recreational purposes” such as swimming, kayaking or fishing at this time.
“Control and remediation is currently underway by Algoma Steel with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) overseeing regulation,” the advisory reads.
Algoma Public Health noted, though, that the advisory doesn’t apply to those on the Sault Ste. Marie municipal drinking water system.
“There is no concern relating to this system at this time,” the advisory reads.
In an email to Global News Friday afternoon, Gary Wheeler, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, said the ministry takes “all spills to the environment very seriously” and is “at the site overseeing Algoma Steel’s clean-up.”
He said the cleanup is in “the early stages.”
“Our role is to respond to spills, inspect the natural environment for potential impacts, and work with those responsible to make sure the effects are mitigated and appropriate actions are taken to protect human health and the natural environment,” the email read.
Wheeler said the volume of oil spilled into the river is “unknown at this time.”
“Most of the oil spilled to ground on Algoma Steel’s property,” he said in the email. “Some of the oil entered Algoma Steel’s wastewater treatment plant where it was then discharged to the river.”
According to Wheeler, Algoma Steel has hired cleanup contractors who have deployed absorbent booms to contain the spill, adding that these contractors “remain active on the scene.”
Wheeler said the U.S. Coast Guard has deployed drones to assess the downstream extent of the spill.
“They have confirmed that evidence of the spill is visible at Sugar Island, which is about 10 kilometres from Algoma Steel,” he wrote.
According to Wheeler, the ministry is requiring Algoma Steel to “assess the extent of the spill and prepare clean-up and monitoring plans to address and assess any short and long-term impacts to the river.”
Global News reached out to Algoma Steel for comment, but did not immediately hear back.