Chlorine Supply Alert

An equipment failure at a manufacturing facility at Longview, Washington may impact future supplies of chlorine used for treating drinking water and processing wastewater.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has issued an alert of a potential chlorine supply disruption in Oregon.

OEM emphasized that tap water throughout the state remains clean and safe despite the chlorine supply chain interruption affecting regional drinking water and wastewater treatment utilities along the West Coast.

“There are no immediate impacts, and we continue to track for potential changes or needs,” OEM Deputy Director Matt Marheine said. “The public can continue to use water for drinking, cooking and bathing, but may consider limiting outdoor use to extend the state’s current chlorine supply. We appreciate the public’s careful water usage and want to reassure there is no need to start amassing additional volumes of water.”

The chlorine shortage is the result of a major electrical failure recently suffered at Westlake Chemical, based in Longview, Washington. Westlake supplies chlorine to water and sewer utilities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Northern California.

The chlorine shortage does not impact all Oregon water and sewer utilities, as some entities have their own on-site chlorine generators or have enough supplies on hand to last through the next several weeks. Based on the most updated information available, this timeframe is projected to be sufficient for chlorine supplies to resume.

Lincoln City officials have posted the following statement on the city's website.

"The Lincoln City Public Works Department has been proactively working this issue over the last 24 hours and we have coordinated with Lincoln City Parks and Recreation Department. Here is the current status for Lincoln City;

Our water treatment method uses chlorine in the form of chlorine gas in very small amounts to ensure our water is safe to drink. We have approximately 80 days of chlorine supply remaining.

Some wastewater treatment plants also use chlorine gas but ours does not – we use ultra-violet light to disinfect.

Our pools were converted to an ultra-violet and Calcium Hypochlorite tablet system in 2017; we have enough supply of the tablets to get us through the summer.

Currently the City has no issues at this point with the chlorine supply disruption and the water is safe to drink. We will monitor the situation closely and take proactive actions if necessary.

We aren’t asking people to curtail water use beyond good conservation practices at this time."

OEM said utilities that may be impacted are aware of the situation and are working directly with the Governor’s Office, Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), OEM, and utilizing Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (ORWARN) and federal authorities to get the chlorine supply they need.

Additionally, Westlake is working to bring the Longview plant back online quickly and evaluating options to help supply chlorine through its other plants and help alleviate the current supply shortage.

"Oregon utilities are collectively working together to inventory needs across the state and preparing to share the remaining chlorine supply through mutual aid until production resumes,” Marheine said. “We are relying on our fellow Oregonians to be responsible and considerate with their water supplies and use.”

How Oregonians Can Use Water Wisely to Extend the Current Chlorine Supply

Use water only for drinking, cooking and bathing

Limit outdoor use such as filling pools, washing cars or watering lawns

Be considerate of fellow Oregonians when purchasing additional water supplies

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, causing a nationwide chlorine shortage.

For additional updates and information, visit https://www.oregon.gov/oem/emops/Pages/2021-Chlorine-Shortage.aspx.

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