Philadelphia officials advised residents Sunday to consider using bottled water for drinking and cooking following a chemical spill Friday, also saying the health risks are “very low.”
“We are notifying the public in the customer service area that they may wish not to drink or cook with tap water,” Mike Carroll, Deputy Managing Director for the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability said in a statement.
“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,” Carroll also said.
Philadelphia officials shared a map of the affected area and said that early indications “have not revealed contamination.” They said they are continuing to monitor the situation and conduct testing.
The officials emphasized that the health risks, if present at all, are “very low.” They added that bathing and washing dishes are not of concern.
Friday’s chemical spill into the Delaware River occurred in Bristol Township in Bucks County. The Delaware River forms a boundary between the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The spill was the result of a burst pipe at a chemical plant called Trinseo PLC, according to WPVI. Officials estimate between 8,100 and 12,000 gallons of latex finishing material, a water-soluble acrylic polymer solution, was released into Mill Creek.
“It’s like the material you find in paint,” Tim Thomas, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Engineering at Trinseo, told the outlet.
Social media quickly filled with reports and videos of customers in long lines at stores to purchase bottled water.
“Line at Target to buy bottled water 10 minutes after the city of #Philadelphia sent out an alert regarding a spill in the Delaware River,” former television “weatherman” Ben Ames tweeted. Ames appended a video showing a lengthy line of people with cases of bottle water. The line appeared to go to the rear of the store and then wrap around.
Philly Inquirer’s deputy business editor, Erica Palan, who notes she lives in NY Philly in an area not impacted by the spill, shared a photo of a line in a 7/11 convenience shop filled with people loading up on bottled water.
“Whoa, real March 2020 vibes in my ‘hood right now,” Palan said. “Saw people with ten cases of water leave Acme, telling people walking in to ‘hurry!’ because bottled water is going fast. My 7/11 line is people buying by the gallon. ‘We’re almost out,’ the cashier said.”
Watch Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management officials’ press conference announcing the advisory below.
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