Snowfall Derby 2011 – Salt Mines

by Mark on January 13, 2011

Over 14,000 tons of salt was sprayed on Rochester area roads during the final quarter of 2010. Salt keeps our roads drivable, but it negatively impacts the enviornment. Salt mining is a major local business. More than a flavor, salt shakes up our lives in snow land.

106 local highway snowplows attack eight to nine feet of annual snowfall. As the front plow pushes aside the white stuff, the back sprays the lane with salt. The combination of power and chemicals keep roadways clean and businesses open in an arctic environment. There were no school snow days during the 2010 season.

Three hundred million years ago a sea evaporated in parts of Pennsylvania, Upstate New York, and Ontario. The residue is a vast layer of salt. During the American Civil War local salt mines delivered the means to preserve food. Four Finger Lakes mines remain in operation with the primary product is clearing wintry roadway in this area and throughout the Northeast.

Salt mining is safer than coal, but there was a local casualty a few months ago. In 1994 one of the mines collapsed and flooded. No one was hurt, but parts of Genesee County resembled a huge sink hole.

“Salt is a natural ingredient, but what is not natural is the concentrations,” said Richard Hanneman, President of the Salt Institute, based in Alexandria, Virginia. There are environmental impacts from heavy road salt. According to Larry Baker of the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center, “The chloride ions dehydrate plants, can kill small aquatic organisms and reduce water circulation in lakes that helps to aerate the water.”

New road salting technologies are under development like: computerized salt sprayers that accomplish the job with less salt; spray additives that reduce salt; and improved plow blades.

Snow land needs it all. Syracuse continues to lead the derby with 89.1.” Rochester’s 62.8” is 23″ higher than normal. Buffalo uses far less salt at 47.8.”

Some people salt for taste. Others throw it over the shoulder for good luck. We toss it around by the ton and hope there is not a future environmental bad taste in our mouth.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: