The Chlorine Tablet crisis just continues to worsen with the latest news coming from New Orleans. The scarcity of Trichlor tablets has begun to truly impact companies and prices continue to skyrocket. The recent BioLab Fire has halted production at the manufacturing plant and has contributed to the sudden price hike. A shortage of Chlorine has been ongoing throughout the summer due to increased consumer demand. The recent fire was the result of Hurricane Laura and released a cloud of toxic chlorine gas. As luck would have it, the poisonous gas did not harm any of the local population of the surrounding area of Lake Charles / New Orleans, LA where the plant is located.
The fire while unfortunate, underscores the importance the manufacturer had towards maintaining a national supply chain of pool equipment supply stores, pool service companies, and pool owners. BioLab is the manufacturer of the popular line of Clorox Chlorine tablets primarily used in residential swimming pools throughout the nation. They also produce a line of Trichlor and Dichlor commercial santization products used exclusively by the pool service industry. The fire has led to an increase in Chlorine tablet prices across the nation.
We have received new information about the chemical fire in Lake Charles. There was a chlorine leak originating from the BioLab chemical manufacturing facility in Westlake, Louisiana this morning after Hurricane Laura made landfall. >> https://t.co/opk4zuGV2Q pic.twitter.com/R1APsS2Kbc
— wdsu (@wdsu) August 27, 2020
As a direct correlation to both the scarcity of Chlorine tablets as well as a spike in consumer demand, prices have steadily risen throughout the summer. Costs are predicted to increase well into 2021.
Pool Service companies as well as Pool Supply stores are left with little remedy but to increase prices on the limited supply of inventory currently remaining. Many are offering alternative sanitization products to consumers. It presents a bit of a dilemma for many pool companies who are reluctant to have to pass on cost increases to loyal customers.
How Pool Service companies feel about the Chlorine Shortgage
We asked K&T Peaceful Waters, a pool service company in Sunrise, FL what they plan to do. “Unfortunately, we see little resort but to pass the cost increases on to our clients. It’s been a challenge to be able to provide service under these conditions. The chlorine tablet shortage certainly doesn’t help and unfortunately it’s yet another cost that we can’t continue to absorb.”
BioLab Fire Spurs Chlorine Shortage Concerns
It’s a sentiment shared by many in the Pool Service industry right now. Pool companies nationwide have expressed frustration on Facebook groups, Instagram and Twitter at the skyrocketing prices of Chlorine Tablets. They’ve struggled to continue to provide service for their customers during a pandemic. The industry lobbied for inclusion of Pool Service as an essential function that should be excluded from state-wide mandatory quarantines.
Service companies saw little relief from Washington during an election year where little attention was paid to the industries struggling to remain operational. They saw price increases across the board due to Covid-19 closures while enduring a supply shortage on the chemicals needed to maintain residential pools. Custom Pools owner Dago Cabral shed some light on the issue “This summer saw an unprecedented explosion in demand for sanitization related products like chlorine tablets. Unfortunately there has been hoarding, and stockpiling of these materials similar to the N95 masks frontline workers needed when the pandemic first began.”
“It’s critical that pool owners realize that any impending price increases are related to a perfect storm of scarcity and a spike in consumer demand in products traditionally reserved for commercial usage.” said Community Home Services owner John Kaplan. “The cost increase is yet another rippling side effect consumers are bound to feel as Covid-19 related price hikes begin to impact monthly costs. As manufacturers begin to shut down and mandatory quarantine seems a realistic and unwelcome visitor once again to our daily lives, it seems inevitable that costs will continue to rise”.
Trichlor shortage lead to hunt for altnerative options
The trichlor shortage has led many to look for alternative sanitization options during the pandemic. Jason De Bosky of Crystal Blue Aquatics explained that his company has been installing more Ozone systems. “They aren’t an alternative for chlorine. These products promote way less chlorine usage. I think we’ve done 11 of them this season alone”.
De Bosky stated that quite often homeowners are often already aware of what is going on in the industry and don’t want the increased costs of chlorine consumption to impact their monthly costs. “Customers routinely ask me for chlroine alternatives and about salt water pools. I tell them, that any system is bound to produce some chlorine. There are plenty of options out there for maintaining proper water chemistry. PoolRX is one of the best products on the market and is still available.”
Are Chemical Manufacturers Doing Enough?
Many in the industry feel that chemical manufacturers have not done enough to meet or regulate the demand. While other industry leaders like Pentair have gone to great lengths to stay operational but have found ways to produce essential products that help fight the pandemic. It’s time for chemical manufacturers to step up and help relieve some of the financial stress that Covid-19 and unforeseen calamities like the BioLab fire caused. The implications these events have triggered are causing price gouging conditions for those in the industry.