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Video: Panic in Philly supermarkets; city warns chemical spill may make tap water unsafe to drink

Drinking water (Air Force/Released)
March 27, 2023

Bottled water began flying off the shelves in Philadelphia on Sunday after the city warned residents their tap water may not be safe to drink following a chemical spill in Bucks County.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates as more information becomes available.

According to CBS News, a chemical processing plant spilled between 8,000 and 12,000 gallons of acrylic latex polymer on Friday in Bristol Township at Otter Creek. The Philadelphia Water Department warned residents their tap water was potentially unsafe on Sunday before posting an update that tap water “will remain safe to drink through 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 27.”

The warning sparked a panic among residents, who rushed to buy water.

“Everybody’s scared,” said one resident. “Everybody’s scared. They had the thing come on your phone, so everybody’s scared. It was a mad rush on here for the last couple of hours.”

Michael Carrol, Deputy Managing Director for the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS), said in a statement that the city “cannot be 100 percent sure that there won’t be traces of these chemicals in the tap water throughout the afternoon” on Sunday morning and recommended people “consider switching to bottled water to further minimize any risk.”

“Therefore, we are notifying the public in the customer service area that they may wish not to drink or cook with tap water,” Carrol said.

“I want to reiterate that the health risks are very low if present at all. No acute effects are associated with low-level exposure. Our best information is that people who ingest water will not suffer any near-term symptoms or acute medical conditions. We foresee no reason to seek medical attention related to this event,” he added.