Matt Leader/Livingston County News file photo

CALEDONIA – JCI Jones Chemical, a bulk producer of chlorine and bleach products, is leveling off production after a few weeks of water treatment plant operators placing larger and more frequent orders amid concerns of running out of cleaning and disinfection chemicals during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Tim Gaffney, an executive vice president with the company, Jones Chemical’s Caledonia facility was getting bombarded with calls late last month from operators of water treatment plants looking to build up inventories of those chemicals should production or distribution be affected by the pandemic,

“Some municipalities are, I don’t want to use the word ‘stockpiling,’ but they’re just trying to order a little more frequently to make sure they don’t run out in case things get worse before they get better,” said Gaffney during a phone interview at the end of March.

While Jones Chemical’s production facilities “are still very busy all over the country,” the company’s regular clients are starting to realize its been deemed “essential” by state and federal authorities and is therefore able to continue maintaining an unfettered supply of water disinfection chemicals.

“Everyone in our supply chain, including our raw material suppliers, our transportation partners, our customers and especially all of our dedicated employees at all of our locations across the country, have all been working extremely hard and together to make this happen,” said Gaffney in an email Wednesday.

Gaffney previously told the County News production at the Caledonia facility he works out of increased between 10 and 20 percent last month to meet the increased demand. If that demand had continued to go up, Gaffney said the company would have added a second shift to the single, split shift the plant usually runs.

“We’ve got the capabilities of having locations around the country where we could bring in other seasoned employees,” he said. “That’s our contingency plan, not just for this virus, but for any emergency. We have at team ready to go around the country where they could be dispatched into any of our facilities if a second or third shift was needed.”

Jones Chemical operates 11 manufacturing and distribution centers across the U.S. Its regular customers tend to be municipalities like villages, cities and counties – basically any type of government that operates a drinking or wastewater treatment plant.

The company’s Caledonia facility has between 15 and 20 employees and supplies product to customers as far east as Utica, south into central Pennsylvania and as far west as Ohio.

“But again, we be got other facilitates near there as well,” Gaffney said. “Another way to look at it is our drivers are home at night. They’re not over-the-road drivers.”

New York City is probably one of Jones’s largest customers, said Gaffney, though orders for the city tend to flow through the company’s facility in the village of Warwick, Orange County, about 50 miles north of Manhattan.

“We provide all the chlorine to New York City,” said Gaffney. “They have the New York City Department of Environmental Protection… they purchase all our chlorine and they supply it to all the different boroughs down in New York City.”

With the contingency plan it has in place, Gaffney said if, for some reason, that Warwick plant were forced to shut down, the company’s Caledonia facility and others across the country would be ready to pick up the slack.

You cant stop supplying chlorine or bleach – it’s just very, very critical to have clean drinking water and wastewater,” Gaffney said. “If you didn’t supply chlorine to New York City and they didn’t have drinking water, this coronavirus would probably be the least of their concerns.”

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