Philadelphia officials say tap water safe to drink after chemical spill

PHILADELPHIA — Officials in Philadelphia on Sunday advised residents to use bottled water for drinking and cooking after a chemical spill in the Delaware River in nearby Bucks County.

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Update 6:19 p.m. EDT March 26: Officials with the Philadelphia Water Department said Sunday that tap water is now safe to drink through Monday after a chemical spill in the Delaware River.

Officials made the announcement in a 3:30 p.m. EDT update, according to WPVI-TV. The decision was based on updated hydraulic modeling, along with the latest sampling results and data from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant, the television station reported.

In a tweet, the water company noted that an earlier advisory suggesting residents should use bottled water to drink or cook was issued “out of an abundance of caution.”

Original report: Philadelphia officials have not found any contaminants in the city’s water system, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. However, “we cannot be 100% certain there will not be traces of these chemicals in the tap water throughout the entire afternoon,” Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, said at a news conference on Sunday.

“No contamination has reached our water system,” Randy Heyman, the commissioner of the water department said during the news conference.

Carroll said in a statement that the contamination occurred on Friday, CNN reported. The spill involved a latex product that spilled along a tributary of the Delaware River in Bristol Township. More than 8,000 gallons of the latex-finishing solution poured into Otter Creek, the Inquirer reported.

Because of that, residents were asked to use bottled drinking water “until further notice, according to WCAU-TV.

The spill reportedly came from a plant operated by Trinseo in Bristol, according to the Inquirer. Tim Thomas, senior vice president of manufacturing and engineering at the company, told WPVI on Saturday that the solution that spilled into the creek did not pose a risk to the public.

“It’s like the material you find in paint,” Thomas told the television station. “It’s your typical acrylic paint you have in your house, that’s what really this material is, in a water base.”

Portions of northwest, west and southwest Philadelphia do not appear to be impacted, WPVI-TV reported, citing a map released by city officials.]

On Saturday, the Water Department said it had closed intakes at its Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant on the Delaware River, the Inquirer reported.

“We are working with the responsible party and local and federal agencies to ensure a safe response effort,” Capt. Jonathan Theel, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, told KYW-TV. “We are also working with our state counterparts in Pennsylvania.”

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