Energy & Environment

Philadelphia recommends bottled water after chemical spill in Delaware River tributary

Philadelphia officials suggested residents of the city use bottled water Sunday after more than 8,000 gallons of chemicals used in latex finishing spilled into a tributary of the Delaware River Saturday night.

The spill is believed to have originated from a burst pipe at the Trinseo PLC plant in Bristol, Pa., which spilled some 8,100 gallons into Otter Creek.

In a statement Sunday, Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for the Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, said no contaminants have been detected thus far. However, he said the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant, the largest such facility in the state, closed intakes around 5 a.m. on Sunday.

Carroll said health risks are “very low if present at all” and that the city was issuing the advisory out of an abundance of caution. Residents were advised to begin using bottled water beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“Nonetheless, because we cannot be 100 percent sure that there won’t be traces of these chemicals in the tap water throughout the afternoon, we want the public to be aware so that people can consider switching to bottled water to further minimize any risk,” he said.

“Therefore, we are notifying the public in the customer service area that they may wish not to drink or cook with tap water. We will update this information later this afternoon.”

The Delaware River supplies water to about 58 percent of the city. A map of affected areas provided by the city indicated the advisory applies to every neighborhood but the western and southwestern sections of Philadelphia, as well as parts of its northwest corner.

The spill comes just over a month after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on the state’s border with Pennsylvania.

Samuel Manka, a marine science technician with the U.S. Coast Guard, told a Philadelphia ABC affiliate the materials in Saturday’s spill were far less potentially hazardous.

It also follows a water crisis in Jackson, Miss., last year when torrential rains knocked a water treatment plant out of commission, leaving residents of the majority-Black city under a boil-water advisory.

Tags Philadelphia

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