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Supply security for critical chemicals needed for water supply and sanitation during COVID-19-crisis

Altair Chimica is an active member of INCOPA (european INorganic COagulants Producers Association) and produces inorganic coagulants which have several applications. The main application is water treatment processes, where inorganic coagulants are used for:

  • Drinking water: remove solid impurities which is a basic treatment step to enable a proper and safe disinfection of the drinking water;
  • Wastewater: there is two main action, as a primary step to reduce heavy metals, nutrients, organic substances and other particles, but also as the main way to remove phosphorus from the wastewater.

Questions & Answers

Is there a risk of supply shortages for critical chemicals needed for water treatment and wastewater treatment?

Thanks to a large range of possible raw material sources and the elevated number of coagulants production sites in Europe, a global shortage is very unlikely. That said, main risks of supply shortages are the following ones:

  • Supply chain disruptions: logistic constraints can make the delivery of raw materials to our sites or the delivery of our products to the waterworks difficult. To avoid it, an unlimited transportation permission including across European borders should be enabled to secure a smooth supply to drinking water or wastewater facilities by national and European authorities;
  • Employees infection: our workers at production sites can be infected by the Covid-19 and therefore generate production outages. To avoid it, our industry has implemented a long list of measures to protect its employees.

In case of supply shortage, what reserves are available?

As critical infrastructure, the waterworks usually keep stocks ensuring a business continuity typically for 1-3 weeks.
moreover, while cross-border transportation is an issue due to quarantining, increased border controls and increased demand of drivers, the market for end material producers is sufficiently diverse to offer resilience.

What measures are needed to ensure continuous supply?

Most of the water treatment chemicals are transported by trucks. To secure a smooth supply to drinking water or wastewater facilities an unlimited transportation permission, even across European borders, should be enabled by national and European authorities.

Also the protection of the active labor force is paramount. Numerous precautions and measures have been taken and implemented to minimize the risk of infection. For example, wherever possible, employees and even entire shifts are separated in order to achieve the greatest possible safety.

If there would be a supply failure of inorganic coagulants which consequences would it have for wastewater sanitation and drinking water supply?

In case there would be a supply shortage of inorganic coagulants in the EU, the priority of the producers would be to first serve the drinking water and then wastewater treatment plants. Once again, anyway, due to the very large network of coagulants’ production sites in Europe, a local shortage is possible, but a global shortage looks very unlikely at this stage.



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