A shortage of chlorine has forced some public swimming pools across the UK to close temporarily. A ‘global supply chain issue’ has been blamed by some operators, with other factors said to be Covid and a fire in a chemical plant.

Saxon Pool in Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, has been closed to general swimmers since May 6. On Friday (May 13) it updated swimmers with a message saying it still did not know when the chemical would be delivered.

Biggleswade Councillor Mark Foster said it was not alone in the problem. He said: “The shortage of chemicals is a Europe-wide issue which has been exacerbated by a rise in demand and prices which have led to global supply chain delays. As a result, centres across the country are having to take similar measures to ensure the safety of their pools.”

The pool at the University of East Anglia closed for for five days earlier this month, with bosses blaming “severely depleted” levels of chlorine gas in the UK. It reopened on May 10 after a delivery. It said there were “supply chain issues with regards to the delivery of chlorine gas”.

Other parts of the country to be hit by the ongoing shortage include Hartlepool’s Mill House Leisure Centre, which had to close for several days in March. At the time Gemma Ptak, assistant director, preventative and community based services, at Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We’ve been doing everything possible to find an additional supply of calcium hypochlorite – a chemical used to chlorinate pools – but unfortunately this just hasn’t been possible.”

In a statement on Friday, Lifestyle at Saxons said it still did not know when the chemical would be delivered. It said: “We appreciate your on-going understanding and cooperation as we continue to navigate a global-supply chain issue which is affecting a delivery of essential pool chemicals. We know this is frustrating for many pool users and we are trying to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

Industry experts said there were a variety of reasons for the shortage of pool chemicals. Chris Hayes, managing director for the UK’s Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association, told the Guardian issues included a temporarily reduced supply in the UK, a backlog from China’s supply chain caused by Covid, a fire in a US chemical plant and worldwide transportation issues.

The Chemical Business Association said: “The horrific situation in Ukraine has wrought further havoc on an already heavily disrupted chemical supply chain caused by factors such as Covid, Brexit or driver shortages.”

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