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Trinseo Chemical Release

Update – as of 5.13.2023:  

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has submitted Freedom of Information Act and Right to Know requests to all the involved agencies in order to secure any data collected on the impacts of the release as well as to learn the details regarding the cause of the release, the responsible parties actions in the wake of the release, and any potential legal accountability.  These information requests are still outstanding.  Agencies are entitled to a certain period of time within which to respond to these requests and often ask for extensions of time in which to gather the information.  We are still in that waiting period to secure meaningful information.  

Mill Creek sampling, March 29th footage
Chemical spill stream health, March 28 footage


At approximately 11:30pm on March 24, 2023, 8,000-12,000 gallons of acrylic latex polymer from the Trinseo Altuglas chemical facility in Bristol, PA was released into Otter Creek, which directly flows into the Bristol Marsh and into the Delaware River. Approximately 8 miles downstream are intakes for the Samuel S. Baxter Water Treatment plant which serves as the source of drinking water for the vast majority of Philadelphia. Three of the leaked substances identified were methyl methacrylate, ethyl acrylate, and butyl acrylate.

Photo of Eel found in the creek
Eel found in the creek

It was not until Sunday morning that a phone notification was sent out from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to all Philadelphia residents recommending that people use bottled water starting at 2:00pm due to the chemical spill, even though no contaminants were detected in the drinking water system at the time. Subsequent public safety notifications over the course of the following days have extended the window of safety and ultimately by Tuesday evening, PWD declared that the drinking water of Philadelphia residents served by the Baxter Water Treatment Plant, would be safe to drink. While most of the media attention focused on the threat to drinking water, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has pushed for answers in relation to the impacts the chemical release would have on wildlife and the ecosystem.

Bristol chemical spill surveillance

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network continues to investigate the site of the incident for any signs of damage to plant and animal life.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Press Releases:

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Demands For Better Action From Agencies:

March 28, 2023 – Delaware Riverkeeper writes US Coast Guard, state and federal agencies expressing concern, demanding action and asking key questions.

Press Releases & Information From Others:

City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Water Department

US Coast Guard

  • March 26, 2023: Coast Guard, state, locals continue response to release of hazardous material near Bristol, Pennsylvania
  • March 25, 2023 Coast Guard monitors release of hazardous material near Bristol, Pa.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

March 26, 2023: DEP Provides Update on Delaware River Pollution Event

Delaware River Basin Commission

Stroud Water Research Center

Bucks County

New Jersey American Water

  • March 29, 2023, statement: As Sampling Continues to Show No Detections of Chemical Spill, New Jersey American Water Resumes Normal Operations at Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant
  • March 28, 2023, statement: New Jersey American Water’s Delaware River Plant Remains Unimpacted by Chemical Spill; Company Lifting Voluntary Conservation Order
  • March 27, 2023, statement: New Jersey American Water’s Delaware River Plant Still Not Impacted by Chemical Spill; Company Continues to Ask Customers to Voluntarily Conserve in Three Counties
  • March 26, 2023, statement: New Jersey American Water’s Delaware River Plant Not Impacted by Chemical Spill; Company Issues Voluntary Conservation Notice for Customers in Three Counties Due to Chemical Spill
  • March 25, 2023, statement: New Jersey American Water President Mark McDonough Statement on Delaware River Tributary Chemical Spill

Aqua PA

Trinseo Altuglas

Press Reporting