Late March 24th saw the city of Philadelphia, PA learning of a chemical spill just up the Delaware River in Bristol Township, Bucks County as confirmed by Michael Carrol, the deputy managing director for Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS). This spill was of a latex product but could not confirm exactly what chemical it was or how much had been spilled.
March 26th saw the city telling residents “Philadelphia Water Department customers in the city are recommended to use bottled drinking water beginning at 2:00 p.m. today until further notice out of an abundance of caution,” according to a local ABC station.
However, later that night the city told residents it “will remain safe to drink and use” until at least Monday due to the time it takes to get through the water systems. Carrol also said the warning was issued as they “cannot be 100% sure that there won’t be traces of these chemicals in the 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.”
Later on the 26th, the Coast Guard revealed that it was an 8,100-gallon spill of a latex finishing product. The spill was the result of a burst pipe at Trinseo, a chemical plant located in Bristol, PA.
Spills and accidents like this have become a frequent fixture in the news recently. As our infrastructure continues to show its age, more problems keep popping up, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has been leading America down the wrong path. Roads are crumbling, bridges collapsing, trains derailing, and now the pipes are starting to go. All of this infrastructure is at least 30 years old, and it has been exposed to the elements for a long time.
Plants like Trinseo are spread out across the country. These plants have tremendous oversight at their locations, but many of the oversight companies aren’t able to get out there as often as they should, so things deteriorate with minimal patches to keep things up and running. When problems like a burst pipe happen there are usually years of overlooked reports that come to light too.
On Midday March 27th, the city gave an all-clear signal, but many in the city aren’t convinced yet. Just the night before news outlets reported and showcased empty water shelves across the city, similar to the same ones seen before a hurricane in Florida. This form of panic buying takes a small toll on the local economy for some time, but with good reason. Given the news of a chemical leak, it’s responsible to gather bottled water.
Just over a month prior the train derailment in East Palestine, OH suddenly left nearly 5,000 people being forced to temporarily relocate. While rail and Federal officials have given the all-clear, Norfolk Southern officials have been setting millions aside to pay for residents’ needs in the coming months and years. They know that this spill was horrific in middle America, had it been someplace like Philadelphia, PA it would have been catastrophic.
This kind of spill isn’t something the American people want to tolerate in their backyards, nor is it something they should have to tolerate. Instead, American government inspectors should be ensuring these systems are up-to-date, safe, and properly inspected. The days of allowing things to slip for a small payment or set up on the side are long gone. The American people cannot tolerate mistakes like this any longer, yet somehow, they still do. It has cost many Americans their lives immediately due to exposure and accidents, with ultimately scores more through the slow burn of things like cancer and emphysema.