Woman filling a glass of water. She is using the faucet in the kitchen sink. There is a plant out of focus in the foreground. Close up with copy space.
A temporary lack of clean water is a possibility under a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Getty)

A lack of clean water could affect up to 100,000s of people as chemical supply chains may be disrupted under a no-deal Brexit.

Operation Yellowhammer, a five-page government document, says chemicals which clean the UK’s water supply could be delayed if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31.

The papers reveal some of the worst case scenarios the nation could face, including a lack of fresh food, medicine shortages, nationwide protests, a hike in energy prices and border delays.

DEFRA says in the documents that the biggest risk to the nation’s water services is the a ‘failure in the chemical supply chain’.

This means there could be a lack of chemicals needed to thoroughly clean water and make it safe for human consumption.

Although the papers say it is quite unlikely this will happen but if it does, it will affect up to 100,000s of people.

A worker re-stocks shelves with bottles of water at a supermarket in Belfast, Northern Ireland on December 29, 2010. Some 40,000 people were struggling to cope Wednesday without water supplies in Northern Ireland, where frozen pipes have burst, leaving some without fresh water for eight days. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the province are affected, with people forced to join long queues for bottled water. Parts of the capital Belfast are among the hardest hit. AFP PHOTO / PETER MUHLY (Photo credit should read PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)
There could be a risk to the chemical supply chain say the government (Picture: Getty)

DEFRA said: ‘Public water services are likely to remain largely unaffected due to actions now being taken by water companies.

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‘The most significant single risk is a failure in the chemical supply chain.

‘The likelihood of this occurring is considered low and the impact is likely to be localised, affecting up to 100,000s of people.

‘Water companies are well prepared for any disruption; they have significant stocks of all critical chemicals, extensive monitoring of their chemical supply chains (including transportation and all deliveries) and mutual agreements in place.

‘In the event of a supply chain failure, or the need to respond rapidly to other water supply incidents, urgent action may need to be taken to make sure people continue to have access to clean water’.

What does Operation Yellowhammer warn of?

  • Three months of disruption at Channel crossings
  • Two-and-a-half day delays for lorries entering the UK
  • Immigration delays for UK tourists heading to Europe
  • Rise in protests and public disorder
  • Disruption to fuel supplies
  • ‘Significant’ electricity price rises
  • ‘Severe extended delays’ to medicine supplies
  • Animal disease outbreaks
  • Reduction in supplies of fresh food
  • Supermarket price rises
  • Panic-buying
  • Lack of clean water due to failure in supply of chemicals
  • Breakdown in sharing of law enforcement data with EU countries
  • Gibraltar not prepared enough
  • Fishing wars between UK and EU vessels
  • Hard border in Ireland

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