PHILADELPHIA – Deputy Managing Director for the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) Mike Carroll provided a statement today, Sunday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m., offering guidance to the public following the spill of a latex product that occurred along a Delaware River tributary in Bristol Township, Bucks County.
“As has been reported, on Friday night a chemical spill occurred in Bristol Township, Bucks County which released contaminants into the Delaware River. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) became aware of this through the Delaware Valley Early Warning System (EWS) and has been evaluating the situation since that time to understand potential impacts to the public. Although early indications have not revealed contamination, we are still monitoring the situation and conducting testing.
“At approximately 12:15 a.m. this morning (Sunday), the intakes at the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant were opened at high tide on the Delaware River and closed at approximately 5 a.m. This was done to maintain minimum levels of water in the system to avoid any damage to our equipment to continue supplying water for including fire safety and other needs. Contaminates have not been found in our system at this time. We expect there is no risk that will be present before 2 p.m. today.
“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. 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.
“I want to reiterate that the health risks are very low if present at all. No acute effects are associated with low level exposure. Our best information is that people who ingest water will not suffer any near-term symptoms or acute medical conditions. We foresee no reason to seek medical attention related to this event.
“Additionally, there is no concern over skin exposure or fire hazard. Bathing and washing dishes do not present a concern. Likewise, we have no concern over inhaling fumes at the levels we are evaluating.
“Again, this advisory is being issued out of an abundance of caution to prevent any theoretical, long-term public health impacts. Restaurants and food businesses will be safe conducting their normal business through lunch time up until 2 p.m.”
- A recording of the OEM’s Facebook live streaming from Sunday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m. is available here.
- A map of the areas served by the Baxter Water Treatment Plant is available here.
Visit PWD’s website at water.phila.gov for the latest announcements.