Cape Town - South Africa’s main manufacturer of chlorine gas for water purification purposes and the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) says there is no longer cause for concern regarding a chlorine supply shortage.
This comes after the alarm was raised and contingency plans put in place following news that the manufacturer was experiencing severe supply disruptions last week that could affect the country’s chlorine supply.
Media reports revealed NCP Chlorchem, headquartered in Kempton Park in Gauteng, (which supplied the City of Cape Town) faced delays in obtaining imported raw materials due to infrastructure problems at KwaZulu-Natal ports, as well as electricity problems at its plant.
This was behind the interrupted chlorine supply that could possibly have affected the treatment of potable water and effluent water managed by water services authorities (WSAs), metros and water boards.
NCP Chlorchem commercial director Stefan Ferreira said the plant where the interruptions occurred was now up and running again.
“We are back to supplying all of our customers as per normal,” said Ferreira.
DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said it was true that the situation had stabilised and the company was in a situation where it could deliver.
“There was just one water board at Sedibeng in the Gauteng province that raised the alarm while all others were continuing with their business but with an eye on supply,” said Ratau.
Ratau said the fact that they had continuous engagement with the company implied that they took the matter seriously because they would not want to have any negative impact on the work of the sector, which would then affect services to people.
“We do believe that in the nearest future the manufacturer will be back at 100% of capacity as at the moment they are operating at just over 85%.
“We would like to encourage the manufacturer to continue with the work that is so critical for the well-being of all South Africans,” said Ratau.
A senior public health professor at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Jo Barnes, said chlorine was an essential component in society’s functioning and an escalated shortage would have had severe consequences in the health sector as it was involved in numerous processes that kept the population healthy.
“Hospitals and public buildings rely on chlorine products for cleaning. The product is used, among others, to clean medical equipment and is used in the disinfection processes to produce safe and clean drinking water,” said Barnes.