Where Does All The Road Salt Go?

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DUNMORE -- PennDOT says it spread 120,000 tons of salt on the roads in this part of the state this winter. That's about $7 million worth. All that salt, of course, has consequences.

Paul Lecinsky of Dunmore and his 1967 Pontiac GTO have one enemy each winter: road salt. He washes and waxes his classic car all season long to keep it from rusting any more.

"Oh, yeah, I've had it all these years, 46 years. It's got to be a labor of love."

You can see it on almost every car this time of year: the 120,000 tons of salt that's spread over the roads in northeastern Pennsylvania.

"That's great when there's still snow on the roads, but when it all begins to melt, we'll begin to see that it's all there and the question people have is, 'Where does it go?' '' PennDOT official James May said.

May says when the weather gets warmer, their focus shifts to cleaning up all the salt they put down all winter. PennDOT isn't the only one. We found a crew for Keystone Landfill in Dunmore sweeping away the piles of leftover salt near their facility.

PennDOT has plans to have a contractor sweep up the excess salt on the roads. Mother Nature still has some work to do though. The built-up ice and snow needs to melt.

"Especially in the areas where there are bike paths or the water could go down into the drain systems. We want to avoid that because many times, if we get too much of the salt and the anti-skid down there, it could end up clogging those systems over time," May said.

PennDOT says cleaning up the salt also cuts down of the corrosion to bridges.

On other parts of the road, some salt does seep into the ground. It's something the Department of Environmental Protection keeps an eye on, but DEP says road salt doesn't seem to have a negative effect on the environment since it's diluted by the time it gets to the groundwater.

DEP does hope that PennDOT can eventually come up with a way to recycle all that salt.

"If they feel like they would have reuse for it, but at this point they haven't determined any reuse for it and DEP hasn't determined a reuse for it either, so someday there might be a reuse for it, but at this point it's pretty much better to be disposed of," said DEP spokesperson Colleen Connolly.

The DEP says recycled road salt wouldn't be as effective for melting snow and ice, but it could be used as landscape fill. But, in order to do that, PennDOT would have to prove that the leftover salt was clean and up to snuff with the DEP.

4 comments

  • Big Dave

    So, all of this food-grade hydrofracturing is “apparently” killing our water sources as some would say, but the 120k tons of salt (which equates to brine) is fine to throw all over the ground each year with no ill effects. Hypocrites. “Drill ’em up”!

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