Chlorine pod shortage, price spike could put a damper on summer

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- A chlorine shortage has the potential to put a damper on summer across the Tri-State area, with anyone looking forward to a refreshing dip in the pool to cool off possibly in for a big shock.

Chlorine supplies are running low due to a fire at a chemical plant in Louisiana last August that was damaged by Hurricane Laura, meaning it's more difficult for pool owners to buy the sanitizing tabs.

As a result of that plant fire, prices for tabs have skyrocketed.

A fire at a chemical plant, BioLab Inc., that handles chlorine for swimming pools burns on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Westlake, La., in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert


"A steep price increase is likely," Chestnut Ridge-based retailer B&B Pool and Spa Center says on its website. "The extent of the chlorine shortage is still unknown. While it is still early yet for the swimming season, it is advisable to prepare now for your pool opening. That includes stocking up on chemicals needed to get you through the majority, if not the entire swimming season."

At Suntek Pools and Spas in Farmingdale, owner Robert Lucia said just as he's about to run out of tablets, he receives another shipment.

"So that's the way we've been operating here," he said.

Lucia said a lot of people are panic buying, which is also adding to the supply chain issue.

"Don't buy more than you have to," Lucia said.

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Marty Cohen, who lives in Bellmore and owns a pool, came to Suntek first thing on Monday looking to buy chlorine tablets.

"I was at a restaurant last night," he said. "They said this is the place that has it."

Like Lucia, those at pool supply store Island Recreational are limiting the number of containers of tablets people can purchase.

"One bucket, per customer, per trip," Island Recreational Vice President Peter Karpoich said.

Karpoich said he anticipated last winter that chlorine tablets were going to be scarce this summer, so he started building up his inventory and solidifying his supply chain.

"We've pretty much been telling our customers since January this was coming," he said.

RELATED: List of major consumer goods affected by supply chain interruptions

Eyewitness News found the tablet shortage is not effecting municipal pools on Long Island since most of them use granular or liquid chlorine. Those alternatives are used in communal or commercial pools because they have to be done every day or every other day.

Most pool supply stores have a sufficient supply of granular or liquid chlorine. The price has gone up slightly since last summer.

Still, it is clear is that pool owners should consider stocking up sooner rather than later.

"With regard to retail pricing, it is a fact that we are seeing increases across the industry," said Michael Egeck, CEO of Leslie's, a pool supplies company, during an earnings conference call with analysts in February when asked about the chlorine shortage.

And it may not get better anytime soon

"Pool chlorine is not easy to get, and there's a chlorine shortage nationally that we're all going to have to deal with," said John Swygert, CEO of retailer Ollie's Bargain Outlet, in a call with analysts in March.

(CNN Wire contributed to this report)

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