Helium shortage leaving local businesses feeling deflated

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by Chris Nguyen & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 19 at 6:32 PM

SPOKANE--A shortage of helium in the U.S. could put a damper on your next party.  Supplies are dwindling across the country, leaving some businesses feeling a little deflated.
 
A local helium distributor says it’s a case of demand outweighing supply.

Norco, Inc. distributes helium across the inland northwest.  Managers are trying to take care of their customers while keeping the situation in perspective.

The United States is the world's biggest maker of helium.  In the past few months some plants temporarily shut down for maintenance, which means there are fewer products to go around.

Over at Inland Imaging in Spokane, employees provide outpatient MRI services for a number of facilities.  Those machines need helium to operate correctly, which means levels are being monitored closely.
 
Company leaders say it shouldn't be a major issue and although buying party balloons might be difficult these next few months, it's just something people are going to have to deal with.

Experts say it could be several months before the supply is replenished, but limited access to helium may last another year, which means prices could continue to rise.

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