Pfizer Spills Potentially Carcinogenic Chemicals Into The Kalamazoo River

( – In 2023, there were more than 300 hazardous incidents involving chemicals in the US. There have already been more than two dozen in 2024. One of those happened at a Michigan Pfizer factory.

On March 13, Pfizer notified the Kalamazoo Department of Public Services about a chemical spill in the Kalamazoo River. The pharmaceutical company revealed that more than 1,000 gallons of the chemical methylene chloride were released into the water in the process area of the manufacturing plant.

Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford told Michigan Live that officials were asking everyone to avoid a “stretch of river impacted” by the colorless chemical. According to officials, it wasn’t clear how much of the chemicals made it into the plant’s dedicated sanitary sewer. Generally, the sewer that serves Pfizer flows into the Kalamazoo Water Reclamation Plant, where it’s treated.

On March 19, officials announced they’d lifted the no-contact advisory for the part of the river impacted by the spill.

The spill in the Kalamazoo River came approximately a year after a previous one at a plant in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Approximately 8,100 gallons of latex emulsion solution were poured into Otter Creek, which empties into the Delaware River. The plant was formerly owned by Altuglas International and Dow Chemical.

Residents in Bucks County were warned not to drink the water following the spill. That put officials in Philadelphia on high alert over concerns that their drinking water might be contaminated. Fortunately, testing showed city residents were safe, and officials eventually lifted the advisory.

The Pennsylvania spill occurred two years after a phosphogypsum stack, containing wastewater from the defunct Piney Point phosphate mine in Manatee County, Florida, almost flooded the surrounding neighborhood. Florida officials were forced to pump the dangerous wastewater into Tampa Bay and other bodies of water.

The chemical spills highlighted how vulnerable the environment and drinking water are to accidents. In all three cases, officials were quick to respond and keep residents safe from harm.

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