A chemical leak into a tributary of the Delaware River has heightened apprehension in Philadelphia, despite the fact that officials have retracted an earlier advisory recommending people to purchase bottled water.
According to The New York Times, a broken pipe at the Trinseo PLC chemical facility released around 8,100 gallons of acrylic polymer solution, a latex emulsion, into Otter Creek north of the city on Friday.
The creek drains into the Delaware River, which provides drinking water to over 14 million people in four states.
Philadelphia officials on Sunday stepped back fm suggestion residents consider using bottled water rather than tap water for drinking & cooking after chemical leaked into tributary of Delaware River, source of drinking water for 14M people across 4 states https://t.co/xPL4sv4koH
— Anna Núñez (@nunez_anna) March 27, 2023
After initially pushing consumers to purchase water, resulting in a frenzied rush to the stores, officials warned later on Sunday to hold off.
“If you want to store water, you should feel free to draw it from your tap, store it in a bottle, you can put in a pitcher, put it in your fridge,” said Michael Carroll, Philadelphia’s deputy managing director for transportation, infrastructure and sustainability. “There’s no need at this time for people to be rushing out and buying bottled water.”
“In a matter of days, the water in the Delaware should be OK,” Carroll said.
According to a tweet by the Philadelphia Water Department, the city has sufficient water in its system from before the leak to prevent a water emergency by Monday at 11:59 p.m.
“This updated time is based on the time it will take river water that entered the Baxter intakes early Sunday morning to move through treatment and water mains before reaching customers,” the advisory said.
NO bottles of water left right now at Giant, after @PhiladelphiaGov said it is recommending residents use bottled water for drinking or cooking until further notice. More than 8,000 gallons of hazardous material spilled in a Bucks County creek near the Delaware River @6abc pic.twitter.com/uGiTM4xN4J
— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) March 26, 2023
The Philadelphia Inquirer said that there was panic purchasing inside the city.
“A friend told me not to go to ShopRite because they were out of water. We were so scared,” Alison Allocco said as shoppers with carts full of water checked out.
Sunday, Carroll told CNN that the city may be able to rest after a flyover revealed no pollution of the river.
“In this case, because we were talking about essentially ingredients that go into latex paint, we would have been able to see a kind of white plume under the river surface,” he said.
Cases of water would be helpful! City of Philadelphia is going back and forth on if it’s safe to drink our water. Stores are not completely sold out.
— Vicki Freeman (@vik1213) March 27, 2023
On its website, Trinseo PLC stated that the leak “appears to be the result of equipment failure.”
CNN reports that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection does not know how much of the 8,100 gallons reached the Delaware River, but that fish and animals are unaffected.
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