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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

Yes. There is enough chlorine supply in Oregon to last the next few weeks. For more information about your specific community's water supply, please contact your local water utility.


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.​

At this point, there is enough chlorine in stock in the state to continue water treatment for a few weeks. Some communities in Oregon produce chlorine locally and will not be directly impacted by the shortage. Communities with lower stock of chlorine will receive supply from other areas in the state with a surplus.


While there are no impacts to the water quality now, people can help extend the current chlorine supply by using water wisely. Use water only for drinking, cooking and bathing. Limit outdoor use such as watering lawns, washing cars or filling pools.

The state is working to get an accurate inventory of the current chlorine supply on hand and working with local entities to share the supply until Westlake’s chlorine production resumes.


No. Some utilities in Oregon produce chlorine locally for their treatment processes. Others who rely on the chlorine supply from Westlake will be supplemented by areas that have extra chlorine supply.

The chlorine shortage is not unique to the Pacific Northwest. Only a few manufacturers in the U.S. supply the bulk of the nation’s chlorine and several others have been experiencing difficulty meeting demand in the last year. Fortunately, Oregon has enough supply in the state to last a few weeks.

The electrical failure at Westlake follows a fire that destroyed BioLab in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in August 2020, rendering that plant inoperable. That facility was responsible for a significant portion of chlorine tablets produced for the U.S. market. In addition, national production and shipping have also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a nationwide chlorine shortage.

Social Media Campaigns

Chlorine Disinfects Water Facebook campaign poster in English  

Chlorine Disinfects Water

Chlorine Shortage Facebook campaign poster in English  

Chlorine Shortage

Enough Chlorine Supply for Safe WaterFacebook campaign poster in English  

Enough Chlorine Supply for Safe Water

Limit Outdoor Water Use campaign poster in English  

Limit Outdoor Water Use

Tap Water Safe campaign poster in English  

Tap Water Safe

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Chlorine Disinfects Water Twitter campaign poster in English  

Chlorine Disinfects Water

Chlorine Shortage Twitter campaign poster in English  

Chlorine Shortage

Enough Chlorine Supply for Safe Water Twitter campaign poster in English  

Enough Chlorine Supply for Safe Water

Limit Outdoor Water Use Twitter campaign poster in English  

Limit Outdoor Water Use

Tap Water Safe Twitter campaign poster in English  

Tap Water Safe


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Contacts

For general questions about statewide impacts, contact:
Public.Info@state.or.us


For general questions about statewide coordination, contact:
Oregon Office of Emergency Management
Bobbi Doan, Strategic Communications Lead
503-507-4481
bobbi.doan@state.or.us

For questions specific to wastewater, please contact:
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Lauren Wirtis, Public Affairs Specialist
503-568-3295 
lauren.wirtis@deq.state.or.us


For questions specific to drinking water, contact:
Oregon Health Authority
Robb Cowie, Communications Director
503-421-7684
robb.cowie@state.or.us
Jonathan Modie, Lead Communications Officer
971-246-9139
PHD.Communications@state.or.us

For questions about impacts to food and agriculture, contact:
Oregon Dept. of Agriculture
Andrea Cantu-Schomus, Director of Communications
503-881-9049
acantuschomus@oda.state.or.us






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