Chemical Spill in the Delaware River Threatens Drinking Water and Wildlife

March 27, 2023

Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145 

A chemical spill in Bristol, PA into a tributary of the Delaware River has threatened drinking water for close to one million people, including communities in Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ. On Sunday, residents were cautioned against drinking tap water. Some of the chemicals in the spill are the same as those released into the Ohio River during the train derailment in New Palestine, Ohio. 

Gary Belan, Senior Director for Clean Water at American Rivers, made the following statement: 

“Our health is connected to the health of our rivers. Any threat to a river and drinking water source is ultimately a threat to our own health and well-being. Chemical spills are alarming and demand immediate attention and action. The impacts must be monitored closely, and those responsible for impacts must be held accountable.” 

“The Delaware River is a regional and national treasure. American Rivers named the Delaware ‘River of the Year’ in 2020 to honor the excellent progress in river restoration and water quality. When it comes to the river’s health, we must not go backwards. A healthy Delaware River is essential to all life across the region.” 

The Delaware River basin supplies water to 16 million people in four states. The river also provides vital habitat to fish and wildlife species including the endangered Atlantic sturgeon. The watershed hosts one of the largest populations of wintering bald eagles in the northeast. Great blue herons can sometimes be seen hunting American shad that travel unobstructed between the upper reaches of the river and the Atlantic Ocean. The urban Delaware River is home to globally rare freshwater tidal marshes and the nation’s first Urban National Wildlife Refuge and the Delaware Bay boasts the largest breeding population of horseshoe crabs in the world. 

About American Rivers 

American Rivers is championing a national effort to protect and restore all rivers, from remote mountain streams to urban waterways. Healthy rivers provide people and nature with clean, abundant water and natural habitat. For 50 years, American Rivers staff, supporters, and partners have shared a common belief: Life Depends on Rivers. For more information, please visit