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  • 06 Aug 2019 7:43 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    GREEN BAY –  An Egyptian ship that arrived in Green Bay Friday morning could be the first of an increased number of international shipments to the Port of Green Bay.

    The ship, called the Andean, left Damietta, Egypt on July 8 with 18,000 tons of road salt. It arrived 3½ weeks later at the Fox River Terminals, a subsidiary of The C. Reiss Coal Co.

    It's the first time an international saltwater vessel of this size has been to the dock just north of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge, C. Ruess Coal Co. CEO Marlin Gohlke said. The ship can carry up to 20,000 tons of cargo.

    "We wanted to bring in a foreign flag vessel and prove that we could do it, and this was the first opportunity we've had," the company's president, Mark Cummings, said.

    A front-end loader picks up road salt from a shipment that arrived from Egypt Friday at Fox River Terminals in Green BayBuy Photo

    A front-end loader picks up road salt from a shipment that arrived from Egypt Friday at Fox River Terminals in Green Bay (Photo: Kaitlin Edquist/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

    The company's reason for the direct delivery from Egypt was twofold: It wants to increase opportunities to handle international shipments, while also taking precautions to prevent a shortage of road salt this winter.

    Salt was brought to Green Bay from overseas last year, but it was transferred in Canada from an ocean-going vessel to a lake vessel. What makes this arrival unique is the fact that this shipment came from Egypt on a single ship, Cummings said.

    Many drivers remember the shortage that affected much of Wisconsin last winter. Due to production issues, domestic producers couldn't fully serve the entire market. Toward the end of the winter, salt had to be borrowed from other cities like Chicago to meet the area's needs.

    "We thought this was a good opportunity for us and the chance to also keep the market from being short," Gohlke said.

    Half of the year's salt inventory is already at Fox River Terminals, a collection that generally starts in May, Cummings said.

    Workers started to unload the Andean after a two-hour inspection of the ship by the U.S. Coast Guard and Etters International, a local customs broker. Unloading the ship will take between 24 and 36 hours.

    Gohlke said he hopes this will lead tof more foreign imports in the future. He also hopes to start shipping products internationally from Green Bay.

    "We're hoping it opens up new opportunities for us and for the port," he said.

    Contact Kaitlin Edquist at (920) 431-8505 or Follow her on Twitter at @kaitlinedquist.

  • 16 Jul 2019 6:39 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    UNITED COUNTIES, Ontario – SDG County Councillors debated about the region’s winter road salt usage on Monday, July 15, before passing a motion that approved a $3.1 million tender.

    The joint tender, issued by the City of Cornwall, includes the supply, delivery and loading of winter road coarse rock salt from Compass Minerals Canada Corp. for $105/tonne, based on an approximate requirement of 30,000 tonnes per season.

    Mayor of South Stormont Bryan McGillis was quick to express his concerns with the product and price tag.

    “I can’t support this motion with what the facts are here and the adverse effects of salt on our environment,” said Mayor McGillis.

    Mayor McGillis, who expressed concern about the topic at a previous council meeting, said he had spoken with a number of public works employees who agreed that coarse rock salt is not the most environmentally friendly option and many tonnes go to waste each season, with the county more realistically utilizing between 20 and 24 tonnes rather than 30. The same sources also expressed to McGillis that the method in which the salt is distributed is not always efficient and there is a level of run-off that does not stay on the roads.

    In 2004, according to McGillis, the county spent less than half of today’s asking price, just above $1 million, for coarse rock salt. Mayor McGillis maintained that although excessive cost is something to consider, his main concern remains on long-term environmental impacts.

    Ben De Haan, Director of Transportation and Planning Services, said that the County had not recorded exactly how much salt was used per season in several years and suggested that the inflation of pricing was a result of increased market demand for available supply.

    Deputy Mayor of South Stormont David Smith, as well as Deputy Mayor of South Dundas Kirsten Gardner, agreed with McGillis’ concerns. Deputy Mayor of North Dundas Allan Armstrong proposed passing the motion with the intent of planning better for next year and having a discussion about what product could be used in place of salt. Deputy Mayor of North Glengarry Carma Williams reminded Council that the issue of road salt could not be considered in a vacuum and that it may influence other road maintenance endeavors or machinery.

    “The way we’re set up right now, we can’t not use (road salt)…not to sound dramatic but lives depend on it,” said De Haan, who agreed to reassess pricing and formula options for the 2020-2021 winter road maintenance season.

  • 16 Jul 2019 6:37 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

  • 19 Jun 2019 12:49 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Toronto, June 19, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

    June 19, 2019 – Southern Ontario waterways are showing dangerously increasing road salt levels in WWF-Canada’s Great Lakes Chloride Summer Hot Spot Map.

    Although road salt – sodium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride – keeps public areas safe during icy winters, it is a critical threat to the health of Ontario’s freshwater and wildlife.

    More than 7 million tonnes of road salt are used in Canada each winter by public road agencies alone. Road salt use by the private sector and small towns is not currently tracked or controlled in Ontario.  

    Road salt’s chloride component is toxic to species and ecosystems year-round. The runoff from winter applications is affecting the creek and river habitats for species like fish, frogs and mussels – where these chloride levels endanger their survival during spawning season in the spring and summer months.

    The Summer Hot Spot maps reveal many urban and rural waterways in southern Ontario including the Greater Toronto Area, Stratford, Barrie and Kitchener-Waterloo are showing record high chloride levels. Some are even as salty as the ocean.

    WWF-Canada’s maps will help inform policy recommendations to the Ontario government. These include establishing a Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO) to address species-at-risk susceptible to chloride levels; regulating road salt application, including mandated training and certification; and developing liability benefits for public and private holders that track and record evidence for maintaining public safety and environmental health.

    The Summer Hot Spot maps is based on data collected during the summer months (May-October) and allows users to compare chloride levels from 2007-2011 and 2012-2016. Researchers can also look up specific addresses to learn about threat levels in nearby bodies of water using the public map: 

    Elizabeth Hendriks, vice-president of freshwater says:

    “While healthy levels for aquatic life should be less than 120 mg/L, our maps show some areas in southern Ontario currently have levels greater than 1000 mg/L year-round. Ontario is over salting its parking lots, sidewalks, and roadways. A small pill bottle or salt shaker is all that’s needed to melt the equivalent of a city sidewalk slab.”

    About World Wildlife Fund Canada

    WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit

    Infographics and b-roll package available upon request.

    Alexandra del Castello WWF-Canada 416 489 8800 ext. 7231

  • 27 May 2019 4:23 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Above, Brockville Collegiate Institute students Monis Sayyid, left, and Jack Sloan won gold for their project The Windfall Solution: An Alternative Winter Road Treatment. Courtesy photo

    BROCKVILLE Two Brockville Collegiate Institute students won gold at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, held May 15-17 in Fredericton, NB.

    Grade 9 students Monis Sayyid and Jack Sloan medaled in the intermediate category with their project The Windfall Solution: An Alternative Winter Road Treatment. The pair developed and tested an apple brine solution made from windfall apples and proved it worked more effectively at lower temperatures than common road salt or the beet brine solution currently used on roads.

    “I was very excited to win a gold medal,” said Sayyid. “We worked really hard on this project and all that hard work really paid off.”

    “I honestly didn’t think we were going to win because of the high caliber of projects that were there,” said Sloan. “It was pretty awesome.”

    Ten intermediate gold medals are awarded at the national competition, making their project among the top 10 in Canada.

    For their accomplishment, Sayyid and Sloan each won:

    • The York University STEM Entrepreneur Bootcamp Scholarship Award (Value $2,000)
    • The Intermediate Resource Challenge Award
    • A $4,000 Western University Entrance Scholarship
    • The Grand Award: Youth Can Innovate Award (Intermediate /$750 Cash Award)

    This is the third consecutive year these two students have brought home a medal at the national competition. The past two years they have won bronze.

  • 20 Mar 2019 8:49 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    With the arrival of warmer temperatures, Minnesotans may be putting their bags of de-icer into storage. But all the salt they sprinkled on the ground all winter in the name of safety?

    It’s hanging around.

    In fact, it’ll be here in July — and much, much longer than that. The sodium chloride, or salt, in most de-icers is now running off into lakes and streams with the meltwater, and it does not break down or disappear. And with no good way to treat it, the chloride has been accumulating in Minnesota’s waters, slowly poisoning them.

    About 50 Minnesota lakes and streams are now officially listed as impaired for chloride, meaning they don’t meet water quality standards. Most are in the metro area. More are getting close to the limit. “It’s a one-way street,” said Sue Nissen, an Edina resident with a citizens’ group called StopOverSalting (SOS). “I think that’s what’s alarming about it.”

    Concerned about this emerging pollution problem, state lawmakers are devising a new way to break Minnesota’s winter salt habit. Bills currently in House and Senate committees would create a statewide program to certify the professionals who apply salt to sidewalks and parking lots, so they know how to best control ice without using excessive salt. The certification would cost individual contractors up to $350.

    The bills target private snow and ice control companies who contract with property owners and managers. The measures are designed to help shield contractors from the threat of lawsuits, saying that certified applicators are not liable for damages from hazards resulting from accumulated snow or ice as long as they used “best management practices” for de-icing.

    Addressing the fear of liability is crucial to changing the salt culture, said Brooke Asleson, a water pollution prevention coordinator for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

    “The fear of slip-and-fall lawsuits is really a big barrier for them,” Asleson said.

    Homeowners out sprinkling their steps are not a significant source of the state’s growing chloride contamination, said Asleson, and are not part of the bills.

    Whether the liability protection is sufficient isn’t clear. The bills also specify that liability isn’t limited if the person applying the salt is negligent or should reasonably have known there was a dangerous condition, for example.

    Joel Carlson, chief lobbyist for the trial lawyers group Minnesota Association for Justice, said his group supports the measures and worked on the clarifications.

    “I can’t think of a single instance where lowering someone’s responsibility for polluting the environment has resulted in the outcome that you want,” he said. “That just doesn’t work.”

    The bills also don’t address water softeners, the other main source of chloride pollution, said Rep. Peter Fischer, D-Maplewood, lead author of the House bill.

    Cutting down on road salt alone won’t solve the chloride contamination problem, but “it starts getting at it,” Fischer said.

    Forrest Cyr, government affairs director for the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association, has testified in support of the proposals. Cyr said he knows his members oversalt. They are under pressure, he said, from property owners and managers concerned about safety and mindful of negligence lawsuits. Owners want to see the salt, Cyr said.

    “You can see the salt even on dry sidewalks,” he said. “They put that down there just so there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind. It almost looks like snow.”

    Just check your shoes

    Testifying at the State Capitol recently, Tim Malooly, owner of Irrigation by Design in Minneapolis, suggested committee members check their shoes for salt damage. They all looked down, he said.

    Malooly said that while he hasn’t been sued, he knows many vendors who have. The pressure is real, he said.

    And it’s grown in recent years as more people move into low-maintenance or no-maintenance communities, he said, such as senior developments. Residents hammer volunteer leaders in those communities with phone calls and e-mails when walkways get icy, he said. They want pristine sidewalks and driveways.

    “They say: “Get out here and salt!’ ” Malooly said.

    Limiting liability is crucial to getting buy-in, he said: “It gives us a great deal of cover to be able to reasonably stand up to the misunderstanding of some of our customers that want us to over-apply.”

    The new program would build on the MPCA’s existing Smart Salting program, which focuses only on the Twin Cities. The expanded program would cost an estimated $200,000, including one new full-time position to run it.

    The change can’t come fast enough, some say.

    “We have 10,000 reasons why we need that legislation,” said Connie Fortin, president of Fortin Consulting, an environmental consulting company in Hamel. Fortin’s company works with government agencies, and provides the training for the Smart Salting program, funded mostly with grant money.

    Excessive chloride is toxic to fish and aquatic life, including bugs.

    Saltwater is heavier than the freshwater. In lakes, it sinks to the bottom and creates a layer that can interfere with the way lakes naturally turn over their water, Fortin said, with water from the bottom moving to the top and stirring up oxygen.

    “I don’t think we’ve even begun to understand what that means for our lakes,” Fortin said. “That’s all new for us.”

  • 04 Mar 2019 6:22 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Know When to Pass

    Never attempt to pass or drive next to a snow plow when it's actually plowing. Plows can suddenly and unexpectedly move sideways from hitting drifts or by cutting through packed snow, according to the County Road Association of Michigan.These 13 winter driving mistakes can put you in danger.

    It's Hard for Us to See

    Often, plow drivers have limited visibility when clearing the roads. This is especially true when it comes to what's behind the plow. When plowing, a 'snow cloud' is often thrown up and this restricts visibility on all sides of the truck. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says motorists should stay back at least 10 car lengths between your vehicle and the plow. This will help prevent you from experiencing that 'snow cloud.' Try these 10 great hacks for removing ice and snow.

    We Work Long Hours

    In Washington state, snow plow drivers and maintenance crews work 10-hour shifts, four days in a row. 'They run two shifts per day and twice a day there are 90 minute periods when all the plows are off the road,' said Jeff Adamson, communications manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation. If it's heavily snowing, plow drivers may get called in on their off days. It can be taxing, as snow plow drivers have to concentrate in hazardous conditions for long periods of time.Make quick work of your own snow removal with these 13 snow blowing tips.

    Mistakes Happen

    'Sometimes the weight of the snow coming off the plow will knock down a mailbox and sometime a driver may hit mailboxes when plowing along the curb line,' according to the City of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. To help drivers, check to see if your mailbox is placed properly and conduct an annual check on the mailbox before the snow begins to fall. Here's a sturdy, low maintenance, DIY-friendly mailbox you can build.

    Salt Doesn't Always Work

    Different storms require different snow- and ice-fighting techniques, according to the City of Iowa City. If the temperature is below 20 degrees F and not expected to rise, salt isn't effective. The decision whether to plow or salt is made on the most recent weather information available. This is the best way to melt ice (hint: it's not salt).

    We Go Slow

    Trucks typically plow and salt at speeds of 45 miles per hour or less, according to the Livingston County Road Commission in Michigan. Of course that all depends on road conditions, so be sure to always be patient. Everyone needs these 13 things in their winter car survival kit.

    There Will Still Be Slippery Spots

    No matter how hard snow plow drivers work, roads will still be slick in some areas. Be cautious in areas such as intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas. According to the State of Indiana, these are hot spots for ice. Here's the best way to remove an ice dam from your roof safely.

    Don't Pass on the Right

    Never attempt to pass a snow plow on the right side. Many plows have 'wings' that allow the plow driver to clear both the shoulder and the lane of travel in the same pass. According to the County Road Commission of Michigan, 'These wings can extend six feet from the plow and weigh as much as a small compact car. When obstructed from view by the 'snow cloud'' this poses a significant danger to motorists violating the law and attempting to pass on the right/shoulder of the road.' These are the 10 best practices for winter driving.

    Consider Staying Home

    If the roads are extremely bad or the storm is right over your location, consider staying put. 'We know this isn't possible all the time, but if it's an option, choose it,' according to the Kansas Turnpike Authority. 'The roads are dangerous enough, and with the unpredictability of other drivers, why risk getting into an accident?' These 14 incredible snow removal tools will make your life easier.

    Be Patient

    'Don't forget, we're in the storm together,' says the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 'Be patient with the snowplows and drive according to road conditions. Heavy traffic congestion affects snowplowing operations, so if you're stuck in traffic, so are the snow plows.' Here's why you shouldn't warm up your car in the winter.[skyword_tracking]

  • 23 Feb 2019 8:09 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Depleted reserves of road salt in eastern Canada's Ontario state have left precious little to use, while more heavy winter storms are expected to bring fresh ice and snow on roads across the state.

    Footage of a salt stockpile in Toronto, filmed this morning (February 22), shows only one large mound in a normally full dock, while the area is still mostly frozen.

    A combination of disruptions with state salt suppliers and an ongoing stream of storms and freezing weather conditions have left the local Canadian authorities at an unprecedented shortfall.

  • 22 Feb 2019 10:30 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    As residents and commuters recover from Wednesday's treacherous freezing rain, they're seeing a familiar sight on Toronto's roads and sidewalks.

    Salt. Lots of it. Maybe even too much of it in some places.

    Sure, it helps both drivers and pedestrians keep from slipping and sliding on slick surfaces. 

    But Anthony Merante, a fresh water conservation specialist for World Wildlife Fund Canada, says excess amounts of salt are having a negative impact on local wildlife. 

    He says as the snow melts and turns to run-off water, thousands of tons of salt go with it, draining into the sewers, streams, and, eventually, Lake Ontario. 

    Meanwhile, homeowners and contractors in Ontario are struggling to find road salt — the result of what many are calling an unprecedented province-wide shortage. 

    Between 10,000 and 12,000 tons of salt per storm 

    So how much is too much? 

    Mark Mills, the superintendent of road operations, says the city uses between 10,000 and 12,000 tons of salt to fight storms similar to the one that hit Toronto Wednesday — he says that's typically the amount used when all 200 salt trucks are sent out. 

    "What we have to keep in mind is we will always err on the side of public safety," Mills told CBC Toronto on Wednesday. 

    "It will start affecting fish, turtles, frogs, and then upper levels of the food chains," Merante said. 

    He said the solution is simple: use less salt. 

    Studies show just using a small salt shaker would be enough to melt ice on a sidewalk slab, he added.  

    To avoid overkill, he says each truck has an electronic control for spreading the salt, which caps at 100 kg per lane kilometre. 

    He says pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers should call 311 if they notice that a lane or sidewalk has been over salted.

    "We often will see that there's a little more salt than maybe is required — we need to know about that," he said. 

    City, homeowners could be held liable 

    Mills says the city will apply whatever it can — plows or salt — until the pavement is bare, which is a mandated level of service set by council. 

    "We don't want to be held in any type of liability," he said. "We do understand that salt has an adverse affect to the environment, so there is a balance that we constantly have to look at."  

    But it's not just the city that can be overzealous with the salt, Mills said.

    Property owners sometimes put too much down, as well, After all, they're expected to clear off ice and snow from their sidewalk, and can use "whatever materials they see fit" to ensure they aren't vulnerable to any sort of liability if a pedestrian is hurt.  

    One Toronto woman says she understands why some property owners would rather be safe than sorry. 

    "I think, just out of an abundance of caution, they put out a lot of salt," Elizabeth Takasaki said. 

    Owners can be fined, or even sued, if someone slips and falls on their sidewalk. 

    'It's overkill' 

    "Too much, far too much, it's overkill," said Shawn Draisey, when looking at the salt coating the cement near a King Street streetcar stop. 

    "There's different ways to do this," he told CBC Toronto Tuesday.  

    He says the people spreading salt on sidewalks either don't know how to cope with snow and ice, or don't understand the possible negative environmental impact. 

    "We're in Canada and we've been doing this for a long time," he said. 

  • 21 Feb 2019 6:58 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Ontario homeowners and contractors are struggling with what some are calling an unprecedented province-wide shortage of salt, leaving them with few options as an icy encore of freezing rain bears down a large swathe of Southern Ontario.

    An incoming storm from Colorado is expected to bring another wintry blast of snow and freezing rain to large area of Ontario, stretching from Windsor to Cornwall, with an area in the middle, stretching from London to Tobermory and Durham to Niagara, expected to be the hardest hit.   

    The storm is moving in while salt supplies are meagre, thanks to a combination of last year's severe winter weather, a 12-week strike at the Goderich, Ont. salt mine and ongoing flooding at an American salt mine beneath Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio.

    "Having a three-month hiatus hasn't really helped the situation," said Gary Lynch, the president of Unifor Local 16-0, the union that represents workers at the Goderich mine. 

    "We can produce a lot of salt in three months," he said, noting the strike has depleted reserves, which would have been mined and stockpiled over the course of last year's labour dispute.

    Since then, Lynch said the mine has been operating 24/7 with most miners working 12-hour shifts to churn out up to 300 tractor trailers worth of salt a day. 

    "The guys are down there working their butts off, as fast as we can get it to surface, it's gone," he said. "We don't have any stock." 

    The company that owns the mine, Compass Minerals, said last summer's strike "had very little impact" on production and while it has had supply challenges this winter, it insists they are only short-term. 

    "Our inventory levels are typical for this time of year and we continue to ship packaged salt from production to warehouse sites daily," spokeswoman Tara Hefner wrote. 

    What shipments are arriving at retail stores are selling out quickly, according to Tammy Dagenais, an assistant manager at a Windsor Home Hardware. 

    "We just received a shipment, so [customers are] scooping it up maybe two or three bags at a time," she said. 

    While some stores have stock, there have been reports of stores in the London and Waterloo regions turning customers away because of empty shelves. 

    Government contracts take priority for salt miners, such as Compass Minerals, in the Great Lakes basin, but even some municipalities have indicated their supply is low. 

    The municipality of Waterloo Region issued a statement Wednesday saying "salt stores are currently very low, due to difficulty in obtaining adequate volume from our supplier."

    The supply is so low in that area, the cities of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo are using sand instead of salt on residential back roads in order to guarantee an adequate salt supply for main roads and bus routes. 

    Complaints about slippery roads have more than doubled in Kitchener to 340 this year, compared to 168 last year. 

    The dearth of locally available salt has forced many private contractors to look further afield to places such as Morocco or Egypt where prices are higher.

    "The salt price went up 50 per cent," said Dennis Leonhardt, the owner of London Snowplow and Landscape, who called the situation unprecedented. "Last year, I was paying $96 a tonne and this year I'm paying $145."

    Leonhardt said what makes the situation unprecedented is the fact this is the first time he's ever had to requisition salt from a foreign country, saying supplies are scarce not only in Ontario, but also most of the eastern United States. 

    "My supplier doesn't expect it to become a whole lot better," he said. "This may become the new norm." 

    Leonhardt said he believes once prices spike like they have this winter, it will be almost impossible for them to return to the levels they were even a year ago. 

    "Maybe it will go down to $120," he said. "I don't see it going back down to what it used to be." 

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