The shortage is due to increased demand for pool supplies during the pandemic and a chemical fire at a BioLab facility in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura that knocked out one of the country's three main chlorine manufacturers.
It not only brought the threat of high winds, fallen power lines and deadly waters, but also the potential for hazardous air conditions caused by chemical breaches in the nearby chemical plant. The loss of this plant will result in a nationwide chlorine shortage that will be felt through the 2021 season.
The first one occurred in August of 2020 in Louisiana during Hurricane Laura. This fire occurred at a KIK custom product plant that manufactured BioGuard pool chemicals. As a result of this fire, somewhere around 40% of the entire nation's chlorine tab supply was lost.
During the fire, around 40% of the entire nation's chlorine was destroyed, sending a shockwave through the pool industry and setting up supply issues going into 2021. Now, as the industry prepares for pool season 2022, this very important factory has yet to be completely rebuilt and is still not producing chlorine.
What can you use instead? Bromine — considered a safe substitute for chlorine. Looks for BCDMH tablets, which are typically 66% bromine and 27% chlorine. If unable to find, you can use just bromine but it may leave the water a dull green color.
The shortage started last August, when a fire sparked by Hurricane Laura destroyed the Louisiana chemical plant that makes most of the country's chlorine tablets. The pandemic-fueled increase in backyard pools has exacerbated the situation by spiking demand. Some cities delayed planned openings.
The prices also have been driven up by increased demand, fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. A report from Goldman Sachs released in April 2021 said about 96,000 pools were built last year in the U.S., with an estimated 110,000 expected to be constructed this year.
As COVID concerns curtailed vacations, more American homeowners put their money in their backyards. Swimming pool construction surged during the pandemic, with many contractors reporting order backlogs well into 2022. More pools mean more demand for chlorine.
While it's being rebuilt, the plant isn't expected to reopen until 2022. That's left homeowners and pool-maintenance companies to scurry for supplies this year, and those who can find the tablets are paying higher prices.
The reason why trichlor tablets are so expensive and why they are sold out at many pool supply stores is because of the national trichlor supply shortage.
Between the pandemic and a catastrophic fire, the U.S. is currently experiencing a major shortage of chlorine tablets. But it doesn't have to end your summer swimming fun. The COVID-19 pandemic caused waves in the world of shipping and manufacturing, leading to shortages of appliances, lumber, electronics, and more.