safe, for now
Philadelphia officials continue to monitor tap water system after chemical spill in Delaware River
Philadelphia officials are continuing to monitor the city's drinking water system after a chemical spill upstream in the Delaware River, CNN reports. Despite initially suggesting that residents use bottled water, officials said tap water from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant would be safe to use until at least 11:59 p.m. on Monday.
So far, none of the chemicals leaked into the river by a latex product spill Friday have been detected in Philadelphia's water system. However, the incident still raised concerns about potential health threats. The spill "appears to be the result of equipment failure" at the Bristol, Pennsylvania, plant, which manufactures acrylic resins, the facility's owner, Trinseo PLC, said. About 8,100 gallons of a latex emulsion solution – half water and half latex polymer – were spilled, according to the company. The product "overflowed the on-site containment system and entered a storm drain, where it flowed to Otter Creek and then to the Delaware River."
One of the three chemicals identified in the spill, butyl acrylate, "is among contaminants of concern identified in last month's train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio," CNN writes. Butyl acrylate is potentially flammable and colorless and can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory system, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Officials also identified ethyl acrylate and methyl methacrylate in the solution that spilled into the Delaware River.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said an "unknown amount" of the spilled product had entered the river and concluded that fish and wildlife had not been affected. Since the early hours after the incident, the department has been "at the facility where the spill originated and will be staying until there is no longer a threat to those impacted in Bucks and Philadelphia counties," said Rich Negrin, the department's acting secretary. "We are working closely with our partners to monitor the spread of the contaminants and we will hold the responsible party accountable."