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Chlorine Tablet Shortage Could Pose Challenge To Pool, Hot Tub Owners In North Carolina

Charlotte-area pool and hot tub owners may have a hard time finding chlorine tablets to sanitize their swimming pools because of a nationwide shortage.

Last summer, a large fire broke out at a swimming pool chemical plant in Louisiana operated by Bio-Lab Inc., one of the country’s largest producers of pool products. It forced the plant to shut down with a projected reopening date of May 2022, The Advocate reported.

Demand for chlorine tablets has increased with the summer weather and because more people have built pools during the pandemic. In a report, the research firm IBISWorld attributed the growth in pool construction to “social-distancing guidelines and fears over the virus.”

Many private pool owners use chlorine tablets to keep their backyard oases sanitized and free of algae and bacteria, some of which, like legionella and cryptosporidium, can be harmful.

Doug Keller owns Pool Xperts, a supply store in Charlotte. In an interview ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, he said he sold out of 5-pound buckets of the tablets weeks ago. Smaller one-inch tablets, which are often used in hot tubs or smaller pools, haven’t been available for months, Keller said.

But as of Friday, Pool Xperts still had 25- and 50-pound buckets available. Keller said the price per bucket -- both for the company and the customer -- has jumped by around 100%.

“Right after the news broke, we started selling two and three buckets at a time at $200 apiece and that’s a huge cost,” Keller said. “But you really can’t ... let your pool run out of chlorine, ever. And if it runs out, we’re gonna have a lot of green pools.”

Bio-Lab told the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board that about 835 tons of the tablets were stored at its plant when the fire started. A spokesperson for the company that owns Bio-Lab declined to say how much of that was destroyed, The New York Times reported.

Copyright WFAE 2021.  For more go to WFAE.org

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literture and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, Claire likes listening to podcasts and trying out new recipes.