Trichlor is in short supply following the massive chemical fire at the Biolab facility in Westlake, Louisiana. The manufacturing plant produced roughly one third of the nation’s supply of trichlor, which was lost in the wake of Hurricane Laura.
How serious is the situation?
A short conversation with Robert Rankin, Vice President of Pool Corp, indicates that the situation is real, and it is serious. Rankin said Biolab was one of three major producers of the country’s trichlor, the others being Clearon Corporation and Occidental Chemical Corporation.
It is difficult to overstate the impact that this will have on pool service companies and Rankin doesn’t mince words. A few brief questions and answers may provide some sense of the scope of the shortage and its effect on pool service
firms’ bottom line: SIN: Is there currently a trichlor shortage at Pool Corp Stores?
Rankin: Yes. It is still very warm, kids are still at home, and there is simply not enough supply to go around. We are doing everything we can to juggle to get everyone 'something' but it is difficult.
SIN: Are distributors currently limiting how much trichlor a service tech can purchase?
Rankin: Yes. Again, we are trying hard to make sure everyone (both our branches and our customers) can get something.
SIN: What are service tech’s using as a substitute for trichlor?
Rankin: They can definitely use granular chlorine, but that will be in short supply soon as well. The first 'default' will be liquid chlorine, which most service techs in
the West already use. But outside of Florida, in the East and Southeast, liquid chlorine is not readily available. The next choice will be alternative sanitization like Salt Units, Ozone, UV and hybrids of those technologies. However, those are all pricey and going to be much harder for the average service company to adopt and make part of their everyday lives.
SIN: Are trichlor prices increasing and if so, by how much?
Rankin: Yes. I would say prices are increasing by 10%-20% already but this is changing every day. As the remaining suppliers get inundated with demand and their resources tighten, prices change, and the market is completely in flux. Costs for them continue to ramp up, as is demand, at a time when they would traditionally be tapering down.
The demand for raw product has multiplied exponentially for those suppliers that are left and all of this is a perfect recipe for more increases.