Equipment Failure at Trinseo Plant Sends 8,100 Gallons of Latex Solution into Delaware River

March 27, 2023
City officials recommend residents use bottled water to minimize risk.

Cleanup efforts are underway near Philadelphia after about 8,100 gallons of latex emulsion leaked from an Altuglas facility into the Delaware River on March 24.

Altuglas is a subsidiary of Trinseo PLC. The facility, located in Bristol, Pennsylvania, manufactures acrylic resins for Trinseo’s engineered materials business and employs approximately 110 people.

The release appears to be the result of an equipment failure, according to a Trinseo statement. Some of the material overflowed the on-site containment system at the facility in Bristol and entered a storm drain, where it flowed to Otter Creek and then to the Delaware River, according to Trinseo.

The solution contains approximately 50% water and 50% latex polymer. The latex emulsion is a white liquid that is used in various consumer goods. Its pigmentation makes the water-soluble material visible in surface water. Altuglas and regulatory agencies are testing water samples in the surrounding area to confirm that the material is not a threat to people or wildlife, Trinseo said in a statement.

The company notified authorities of the release and took steps to prevent the further migration of material to the storm drain, the company said.

As of March 27 at 11 a.m. EST, the Philadelphia Water Department said it was confident tap water from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant was safe to drink and use through the remainder of the day. However, a city official recommended that residents consider using bottled water since it couldn’t rule out the presence of trace amounts of the chemical.

At approximately 12:15 a.m. on March 26, the department opened the intakes at the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant during high tide on the Delaware River and closed at approximately 5 a.m.

“This was done to maintain minimum levels of water in the system to avoid any damage to our equipment to continue supplying water for including fire safety and other needs,” said Michael Carrol, deputy managing director for the city’s office of transportation, infrastructure and sustainability.

The health risks are “very low, if present at all,” according to Carrol.

“No acute effects are associated with low-level exposure,” he said. “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."

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