Bad Rock Salt Hinders Snow Cleanup in Local Towns
By David Chang
Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 • Updated 12:09 PM EDT
Over 50 towns in Berks County say defective rock salt is causing a big problem during cleanup efforts for snow storms. NBC10's Doug Shimell shows us how.
Crews across the region are placing rock salt along the roads in preparation for Tuesday’s snow storm. But officials in many Berks County communities say the rock salt is actually doing more harm than good.
Rich Biting, a road foreman in Lower Alsace Township, says he noticed something strange about the salt he was spreading on the roads during the snow storms this season.
“It would just evaporate it seemed like,” he said. "It wasn’t melting the ice at all."
Biting and his crews thought they were treating miles of road with salt only to receive complaints that the roads hadn’t been salted. That’s when Biting realized the salt was actually wet and freezing into giant boulders.
“It was clumping up,” he said. “So we had to bring the trucks back for a couple hours in the shop and warm it up, and hopefully it thaws and beat ‘em with a crowbar.”
Lower Alsacre Township along with 54 other towns in Berks County reported having to use backhoes to get the salt out of the trucks after spending over $1 million on a salt contract. Crews also found large sheets of plastic tarp mixed into the salt.
Officials with the towns reached out to Cargill Deicing Technology, the Ohio-based company that sold them the salt. Officials with the company claimed there was an unspecified issue and that they would send them salt from another source. Until that new delivery arrives however, Biting and other officials say they have no choice but to keep trying to spread the bad rock salt.
“I think they could’ve solved this a lot earlier in the season when they saw this right away,” Biting said. "Or [[they said]] 'let's keep selling it until somebody complains.' Maybe."
Officials with the city of Reading say they will have the defective salt analyzed to see exactly what it is. NBC10 reached out to Cargill Deicing for comment. We have not yet heard back from them however.