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VERIFY: Heading to the pool this summer? Well, there's a chlorine shortage

A combination of pandemic-related shutdowns and a massive chemical plant fire have led to a shortage of chlorine.

WASHINGTON — Could a chlorine shortage throw a wrench in summer fun for pool owners? 

This month, folks start opening their pools. But this year, the primary chemical in pool cleaning is in high demand and short supply.

The chlorine shortage is just the latest in the economic shortages we have seen. It has many people online wondering: Why can’t they find chlorine?

THE QUESTION

What is behind the chlorine shortage?

OUR SOURCES

Julie Pruitt, owner of All Seasons Pool and Spa. Pete Earle, an economist from the American Institute for Economic Research, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.

THE ANSWER

It is a combination of pandemic-related plant shutdowns and a massive chemical plant fire from 2020.

WHAT WE FOUND

Only one word describes this month for the pool service company All Seasons Pool and Spa in Laurel, Md.

“It’s insane,” owner Julie Pruitt said.

This May, her team will open between 12 and 16 pools every day.

“Everybody wants their pool open before Memorial Day,” she explained. “Their pools are green and with the chlorine shortage, it makes it hard to get them under control.”

You read that right. Those tablets of chlorine used to keep pools clean are hard to come by.

“Right now [our suppliers] are saying anything that you were to order today it would be 8 to 12 weeks delivery,” Pruitt sighed.

According to our experts, some supply shortages are common across different industries.

“There are a lot of shortages because [during the pandemic] there are certain areas which were shut down entirely or partially shut down,” Earle said.  

For the chlorine industry, it got hit with a double whammy back in August of 2020. When a fire destroyed the Louisiana chlorine plant run by Biolab.

“I think they produce about 50% of the chlorine in the United States, Pruitt said. “There are other manufacturers, but Biolab is by far the largest single one that produces most of what we sell.”

Combine that with fewer workers at the plants and fewer truck drivers on the road and you get a 2021 chlorine shortage.

“We tried really hard, from the beginning to limit how much people could buy,” Pruitt said. “Most of our customers have been very good about it”

From where Julie sits at All Seasons Pool and Spa, panic buying from customers is only making it worse.

“We will get through this, we will get more stock in people will be able to use their pool,” she said. They just need to think about not just themselves, but the bigger picture that we are all in this together.”

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