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No salt brine on roads

02 Mar 2023 6:50 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

No salt brine on roads - Letters -

n the last two weeks, we have had comparatively dry weather.

There have been only a couple of light-snow days in the last week. So, why are the roads being heavily sprayed with toxic brine? What is the criteria for spraying this destructive (liquid)? Who makes the call? Was that person’s name on my municipal ballot?

I certainly did not vote to have my driving curtailed by the threat of my personal vehicle being damaged by this stuff.

The “safety” aspect of salt application doesn’t wash. Proper winter tires (not all-seasons) and slower driving will work without salt. It seems like the general public has it’s collective head in the sand when it comes to this issue.

One’s vehicle is a large investment, whether you pay the price for a new vehicle or spend the time and money to maintain an older vehicle. I can understand there is a certain, large demographic in this valley that never keeps a “daily-driver” (vehicle) for more than three years, so the concern for vehicular salt damage is irrelevant. For the rest of us, this amounts to an unauthorized destruction of a personal asset.

The spraying of brine has become extreme. The excuse trotted out is that brine application is a “prophylactic” measure, to reduce the ice/snow adhering to the pavement. Almost any dry day, those tankers are spraying brine on the roads in anticipation of ice. There is no snow. They get the same weather forecasts that we do. The next day, they are out again, spraying. Is it a quota system?

There is a document from a partnership of the federal government, the provinces and municipalities, the Transport Association of Canada. The article is called Synthesis of Best Practices Road Salt Management, 1.0 Salt Management Plans. It is large and goes on at length about the appropriate application of salt, whether it’s rock salt or the more destructive cal/mag liquid de-icers.

The article goes into depth about the destructiveness to the environment, bridges and road infrastructure. Of course, because it is a government initiative, there is no mention of the proven damage to personal vehicles. It also does touch on the damage to commercial vehicles.

This document includes an education aspect for people who authorize, and operate the salt-application machinery.

“Understand that chemical should not be applied to dry pavement where drifting snow is not sticking, unless it is necessary as part of a storm response strategy,” it states.

We rarely get the conditions that qualify as a snow storm. What would normally be a dry road surface is wet with concentrated salt water.

“Understand when to use, and not use specific chemicals, taking into account pavement temperatures, forecasts, time of day, traffic volumes etc.,” says the article.

This situation came to a head last week, under sunny, dry skies on a dry road midday, while I was driving my 104-year-old Ford Model T into the Stevens Road roundabout at Westlake Road in West Kelowna.

The salt truck entered the roundabout ahead of me to my right, and started spraying heavily right in front of me as it exited the roundabout to go south on Stevens Road. There was no snow or ice in the forecast for the next three to four days. I had to perform a fairly drastic maneuver to avoid the salt spray and drove over the roundabout, up the hill to Highway 97 and the perfectly dry pavement to finish my errands.

Fortunately, the Model T’s high clearance made the manoeuvre easy. I insure this car year-round, but a large part of the winter, the salt-brine sprayers ruin what would be an otherwise enjoyable drive.

There are considerable studies and documentation about the rapid destruction of vehicle systems, resulting from liquid-salting. Because it is a continuous “bath” of concentrated salt water, vehicles pick it up with their tires and completely soak every surface underneath.

This stuff goes airborne and kills the effectiveness of windshield wipers and washer fluid. It gets into every crevice on the body (of vehicles).

Windshield replacement shops are finding dangerous deterioration of the windshield recess and pinch weld areas. Comprehensive insurance does not cover the expensive repairs and resulting loss of vehicle use, while the damaged area is cut out, and replaced. The salt undermines the sealant under the windshield, and can result in the sudden detachment of the windshield.

Because modern vehicles depend so much on the integrity of the windshield, the hidden damage compromises the structural integrity of the roof and can cause the airbags to deploy outward, instead of protecting the passengers.

So much for safety, when the so-called safety initiatives that justify salt use cause such damage to vehicle structure, safety, electrical systems and visibility while driving.

Andrew Kiesewetter, West Kelowna.

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