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Water supplies expected to remain safe during chlorine gas shortage – WA Health officials

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WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Friday, June 17th, officials with the Washington State Department of Health issued a news release advising no immediate impact to drinking water in Washington was expected during a disruption in the supply of chlorine gas.

The disruption in the supply is the result of an electrical failure at Westlake Chemical, based in Longview. Westlake supplies chlorine to water and sewer utilities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and northern California. The situation is expected to be resolved within a couple of weeks according to the news release.

The chlorine shortage does not impact all water and sewer utilities in the state, as some have their own onsite chlorine generators or have enough supply on hand to last several weeks. Based on the latest information, our largest water utilities should have enough supply to last until chlorine supplies resume.

Washington Department of Health news release (June 17, 2021)

Whatcom News reached out to water providers and wastewater treatment facilities throughout Whatcom County over the weekend asking if this chlorine shortage is expected have any impact on their operations.

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Bellingham Public Works Director Eric Johnston told Whatcom News via email, “The City of Bellingham uses an onsite sodium hypochlorite system for drinking water disinfection.  There will be no disruption in potable water delivery resulting from the disruption on chlorine gas supply chain.” He added that the Post Point Resource Recovery Facility does use chlorine gas to treat and disinfect wastewater prior to discharging into Bellingham Bay but their current supply on hand “is projected to be adequate for the expected duration of the supply chain disruption.”

Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District General Manager Justin Clary said they use chlorine produced at the Westlake facility in the operation of both the Sudden Valley and Agate Heights water treatment plants. Clary said in an email to Whatcom News they currently have more than enough on hand to last the expected shortage but have also been told they will soon be receiving a shipment ordered prior to the Westlake outage that will support their operations for another 1 to 2 months.

City of Lynden Public Works Director Steve Banham said in an email their water and wastewater plant operations will not be affected by the shortage since they have onsite chlorine generators.

Birch Bay Water & Sewer District Operations Manager Mike Sowers told Whatcom News via email they have an ultraviolet disinfection system at their Wastewater Treatment Plant and do not require chlorine gas as a result.

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