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Chlorine Shortage and Potential Impacts

Last Updated 06-25-21water-faucet.jpg

Oregon Tap water is clean and safe to drink ahead of the historic heat wave predicted to hit many parts of the state this weekend. 

A critical chlorine supply issue that recently amplified a shortage for Oregon and other West Coast utilities has been stabilized and immediate local supply needs are currently being met.

The shortage was caused by a major electrical failure at Westlake Chemical, a chlorine manufacturing facility in Longview, Washington, that supplies chlorine for much of the West Coast. The company originally anticipated its plant being offline until the end of June at a minimum. Westlake collaborated with its customer, NORPAC, which supplied a spare electrical transformer that Westlake successfully installed and completed testing on earlier this week. The facility restarted production midweek.

Westlake is working on the fulfillment of orders and will be notifying its customers about their supply expectations from the plant to ensure supply needs are met.

Oregon utilities that were impacted worked directly with the Governor's Office, League of Oregon Cities, Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and utilized Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (ORWARN) and federal authorities to get the chlorine supply they needed during the shortage.

Chlorine is required to disinfect drinking water and treat wastewater for public health and safety. Chlorination is a critical part of the water treatment process that disinfects and kills bacteria, viruses and other microbes. Chlorine disinfection is described by CDC as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, dramatically reducing the incidence of waterborne disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

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For general questions about statewide impacts, contact:

For general questions about statewide coordination, contact:
Oregon Office of Emergency Management
Bobbi Doan, Strategic Communications Lead

For questions specific to wastewater, please contact:
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Lauren Wirtis, Public Affairs Specialist

For questions specific to drinking water, contact:
Oregon Health Authority
Robb Cowie, Communications Director
Jonathan Modie, Lead Communications Officer

For questions about impacts to food and agriculture, contact:
Oregon Dept. of Agriculture
Andrea Cantu-Schomus, Director of Communications