By Aneri Upadhyay
On March 24, a chemical spill into the Delaware River caused contamination in the water systems of the Tristate area, affecting both the people that live there and nearby residents.
The spill occurred after a pipe broke at Trinseo PLC, a chemical plant in Bristol, Pennsylvania. This caused dangerous material, such as latex, to spill and spread into the Delaware River, which provides water to parts of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. It is suspected that the cause of the leak is equipment failure.
Tim Thomas, a vice president at the chemical plant, spoke on what the spilled material exactly was.
“It’s like the material you find in paint,” he stated. “It’s like your typical acrylic paint you have in your house. That’s what really this material is, in a water base.”
There was confusion following the leak, especially from the citizens of Philadelphia. The leak occurred on Friday but people were not warned of potential contamination until Sunday, according to Common Dreams.
As reported by the BBC, officials asked people to refrain from using tap water until the spill was cleaned up and instead use plastic water bottles. It was announced on March 26 that the water is now clean to drink.
Mike Carroll, Philadelphia’s deputy managing director for transportation, infrastructure and sustainability, stated that, “the potential for contamination [from the spill] is diminishing over time.”
Part of the reason for the water being safe so soon is because of recent weather conditions that have played a role in washing out any potential latex solution in the river. Officials also helped collect contaminated water to stop its spread.
It is important to maintain a clean river, for both the people and wildlife that rely on it. According to American Rivers, the Delaware River holds many fish and wildlife such as the Atlantic sturgeon, which is endangered.
There are also rare tidal marshes at the river and an abundance of horseshoe crabs, as Delaware Bay has the largest breeding population of them worldwide. Other frequent visitors of the Delaware River include bald eagles and great blue herons.
Although the spill did not happen immediately near the College, Trenton’s mayor still advised caution to Trenton Water Works, which provides water to multiple townships in Mercer County as reported by NJ.com.
New Jersey American Water President Mark McDonough shared that sentiment, stating that, “the health and safety of our customers is our top priority.”
The spill has been investigated by multiple experts from the U.S. Coast Guard and various environmental agencies in Pennsylvania.
Upon further investigation, contaminants had not been found in the water system, according to the New York Times. Helicopters have reported that no hazards had been seen when flying over the river the weekend after the spill.