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  • 25 Jul 2018 6:54 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    The Saskatchewan farming family that owns the land where salt water leaked from a Husky Energy line says the company is "underplaying" the damage.

    Ken and Nick Wourms have released aerial photos that show yellowed trees and vegetation in what appears to be the path of the leak, which spilled salt water last Wednesday into the Englishman River, about 500 metres from the leak site near Turtleford, Sask.

    Husky spokesperson Mel Duvall said in a response to emailed questions that the company does not know how much water leaked, adding that testing has not detected any hydrocarbon or salinity contamination in the Englishman River. He said Husky did not mention any damage to farmland in its initial statement on the leak because "some impact to vegetation was to be expected."

    "In the early stages we were working to get an assessment of impacted areas," said Duvall.

    But Ken said the impact to his land is significant.

    "We have 90-foot [30-metre], 50-year-old trees that are dead … we've got a whole grove of them gone," he said.

    "That's some of the most pristine, native, untouched, undisturbed prairie wood and natural landscape in northwestern Saskatchewan."

    He's also concerned about potential contamination of the land by uncleaned equipment Husky has brought onto the farm property. 

    "They're driving over it wherever they want, I've got no releases for them to [excavate] anything and at the end of the day they're underplaying what's going on out there."

    Duvall said the company is aware that Wourms is concerned about the impact to his land and said "that is completely understandable."

    "We've had a good relationship and we will continue to work closely with him on the remediation work," said Duvall in an email.

    The company said it had started removing top soil that was contaminated by the salt water but it has halted all excavation at the request of the family, who also urged Husky not to remove any dead trees.  

    Husky said the water is being tested to determine a full chemical breakdown, but the results are not yet available. It said salt water was responsible for the death of the vegetation.

    Ken plans to hire an independent soil specialist to analyze how deep the salt has penetrated.

    His son Nick, who is in the process of taking over the farm, took aerial photos of the site with a drone he uses for crop monitoring.

    He said part of the affected area is canola crop, while the area closest to the river is natural prairie grassland that his family has left untouched.

    "It's a big concern, especially with me trying to take over the family farm," said Nick.

    "My parents [are passing] it to the next generation which is me. My whole lifetime I'm going to have to deal with this stuff."

    Both Nick and Ken fear the salt water has penetrated the ground deeply and will have a lasting impact on soil quality.

    For them, they said salt water is worse than oil.

    Two years ago, a Husky pipeline near Maidstone, Sask. leaked about 225,000 litres of oil, about 40 per cent of which leaked into the North Saskatchewan River.

    "Oil is one thing, and I mean, it's a problem, but it stays on the surface," said Nick.

    "Whereas salt water leaches into the ground and it goes really deep."

    Duvall said in an email Husky does not know how deep into the soil the water has leaked, adding that soil from affected areas will be removed and replaced.

    "Testing is underway on the soil," said Duvall.

    "Our initial focus was on testing the river water and putting measures in place to prevent further drainage into the river." 

    The Wourms family said Husky should have notified them of their plan before removing soil and bringing equipment onto their property.

    They said the company was unable to answer their questions about how the equipment was cleaned to ensure there was no possibility of contamination. Husky said it has asked the companies that own the equipment to provide that information.  

    "We grow a lot of canola on our farm and if even a little speck of the spore of clubroot is in the soil — our farmland that's worth $12 million now could be worth two in a matter of a couple of years," said Nick.

    "We try to take care with cleaning our equipment, steaming our equipment, bleaching it and they ran in with all this excavation equipment without asking us and it was covered in mud, it wasn't cleaned properly."

    The leaking line was used to transport saline water brought to surface during the production of oil. It runs between a water handling facility and a disposal well west of Turtleford.

    The treated water was on its way to being disposed of before the leak, which happened about 500 metres west of the Englishman River. The line has since been shut down but the precise location of the breach is still not known.

    Although the leak was discovered Wednesday, Husky said it does not know when it started.

    Nick and Ken believe it could have started about three weeks ago, having noticed their spraying machine sank into the field.

    "I just assumed it was wet in the area because of all the rains we'd been having," he said.

    The leak occurred in the Rural Municipality of Frenchman Butte near Turtleford, which has a population just under 500 people, and is located 207 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

    Husky Energy said there are no reports of wildlife being affected.

  • 24 Jul 2018 7:01 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    An Island man says a chemical used to minimize dust on dirt roads during the summer months does a number on his vehicle and leaves him paying more for car maintenance every year.

    The province applies magnesium chloride — a form of salt — as a dust suppressant on dirt roads Island-wide. But Merrill Gillis, who lives on unpaved Gillis Road, said the chemical is corrosive and harmful to everything from his brakes to the body of his vehicle.

    "The problem is when you get your car cleaned for the summer … one drive on the road, it destroys that," he said. 

    "You basically end up getting the undercoating done twice a year to try and fight this."

    He said the chemical doesn't just add to the maintenance of his car, but his dog has trouble walking on it. He said it's hard on the paws of any animals walking on the road and questioned its impact on nearby rivers and streams.

    A spokesperson with P.E.I.'s Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy said magnesium chloride is used in many sectors and has been demonstrated to be environmentally friendly. In a statement, the department also said the chemical is less corrosive than calcium chloride, another dust suppressant.

    Gillis said dealing with salt on roads in the winter is bad enough, and that he'd like to get a break from it in the summer months.

    He wants the province find a different solution to the dust problem or allow residents to choose whether or not they'd like the substance applied to their road.

    And he'd like to see more discussion of the issue. 

    "People should know what it's costing them, in terms of vehicle maintenance and other issues," Gillis said.

    "I think that if they knew what the damage they were enduring with this or paying for they would be dead set against it."

  • 18 Jul 2018 10:53 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    NEWMARKET (July 18, 2018) Conservation Authorities are pleased to see the release of the Good Practices for Winter Maintenance in Salt Vulnerable Areas. This guidance was developed by a multi-stakeholder group chaired by the Ontario Good Roads Association and Conservation Ontario, and comprised of members from municipalities, conservation authorities, as well as provincial and federal governments.  Road salt is commonly used for maintaining road safety during winter, and also to suppress dust on unpaved roads. Excess road salt impacts watershed health, affecting our surface and groundwater resources including drinking water sources. “The successful partnership with the Ontario Good Roads Association has resulted in the development of a milestone guidance for road salt management. This guidance includes a wide variety of good practices that will help protect Ontario’s drinking water sources.” Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario said.  The good practices guidance is a living document that currently focusses on protecting municipal drinking water sources that have high levels of sodium or chloride. These practices can be considered by municipalities in salt management plans, by contractors who manage parking lots, and for risk management plans developed under the Clean Water Act.
    Read about Good Practices for Winter Maintenance in Salt Vulnerable Areas  Learn about Ontario’s Drinking Water Source Protection program
    For more information: Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario   (905) 895-0716 ext. 231
    Chitra Gowda, Source Water Protection Lead, Conservation Ontario   (905) 895-0716 ext. 225

  • 20 Apr 2018 8:15 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    A drainage engineer with the city of Greater Sudbury says to better understand the issue of rising salt levels in Ramsey Lake, you have to take a shorter view of the data. 

    CBC news reported last week that the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance, a group of scientists and concerned citizens, is worried about the amount of salt and chloride now in Ramsey Lake and beyond. 

    The group pointed straight at city salt trucks as a big factor in the ongoing rise.

    Paul Javor, a drainage engineer and self-styled "stormwater guy" with the city, said there's no doubt that Sudbury's water has become increasingly salinated over the years. 

    For him, it's a question of what the levels look like since the city started to make changes to its road salting practices.

    "In the long-term projection, [the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance is] looking at data from the 90s until relatively recently, and there's certainly an upward trend," he said. 

    "[But] if we looked at the data kind of going forward kind of from 2010, we're seeing that salt levels are kind of levelling out within Ramsey Lake, and similarly, chloride levels are as well." 

    Javor said about a decade ago, the city stopped salting most local and side roads, partly as a cost-saving measure, since salt is pricier than sand. 

    Now, fewer than 25 per cent of Sudbury roads get salt at all. 

    Javor said to maximize the road salt the city actually does put down, it has also started making it's own brine.

    "[That's] a pre-wetting agent that we use to help salt stick to the asphalt, which helps us use less salt," Javor explained.

    Another change: Javor said the city doesn't salt as often as it once did during a single winter storm. Now, it salts once, and then roads get sand after that. Javor said it's an effort to keep salt from simply being plowed off the road with each pass of a plow.

    Competing interests

    While the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance decries the use of any road salt, calling for alternatives like other phosphates or nothing at all, Javor said the city has an obligation to balance environmental stewardship with road safety; a tension that he said plays out at every level. 

    "I've seen it between two neighbours. One neighbour wants his lakeside, you know, 'make sure there's no salt remotely in my area,' and the other neighbour puts the salt to it.

    Javor said another part of the salt contamination issue comes down to private and commercial salt use. He said he'd like to see more public education about putting salt down in the slippery winter months.

  • 18 Apr 2018 3:23 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    TORONTO—Road salt is fast becoming the new phosphorous, according to Elizabeth Hendriks, vice-president, Freshwater Program at the World Wildlife Fund. Although the situation is not yet a crisis, Ms. Hendriks said that she was very pleased with the funding allocation in the new Ontario budget aimed at getting ahead of the problem—but there is plenty we can all do to ensure Ontario’s fresh water stays fresh.

    “We have been working on the road salt issue for over a year now,” said Ms. Hendriks. “It is great to see the government has seen this as an issue that we need to get ahead of.”

    Recent studies on inland lakes and rivers have raised the alarm on rising levels of salinity in those bodies. “Our rivers are turning into oceans,” said Ms. Hendriks. “Salt levels are so high. The government has identified salt as a toxic substance.”

    Ms. Hendriks said that she anticipates it will not be long until road salt “becomes the next phosphorus.” For decades now, governments, NGOs, cottager associations and individuals have targeted phosphorous with diligence and some effect, although some Great Lakes are still experiencing negative impacts from phosphorous. “Lake Erie is experiencing huge algae blooms,” noted Ms. Hendriks. Remediating a problem that has been allowed to get out of hand is generally a lot harder than getting ahead of an issue and preventing it from becoming a potential ecological disaster.

    Salt has been fingered as a major negative environmental factor for marine life in freshwater eco-systems.

    With government onside, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the public education side of things. “It’s not the water we need to manage,” suggested Ms. Hendriks, “it’s the people.”

    There are plenty of options for a grassroots approach to helping deal with the issue. “One thing people can do themselves is to dial back on their own use of salt,” said Ms. Hendriks. “We encourage people to shovel their walkways and driveways (instead of just laying down copious amounts of salt) and wear winter boots.”

    When it comes to the larger parking lots and malls, let your concerns be known to the management, she suggests. “If you see a mall parking lot being salted, let the management know that you would prefer they find another way of keeping their lots clear.”

    Concerns about slips, falls and the associated legal ramifications have gotten out of hand, suggests Ms. Hendriks. “We need to dial back on the liability.”

    Ms. Hendriks suggests that businesses and municipalities can seek out Smart About Salt certified contractors when they are arranging to have their lots taken care of over the winter. The Smart About Salt program is offered by the Smart About Salt Council, a not-for-profit organization which offers training to improve winter salting practices on facilities and recognizes industry leaders through certification. Its programs can be accessed at

    “It’s a day-long training session that provides information on the most effective use of salt,” said Ms. Hendriks.

    Winter salt is economical to purchase, readily available and an effective tool for keeping surfaces clear of ice, notes the Smart About Salt website. “However it is important to manage its use to reduce the negative impact winter salt can have on our environment. Salt damage costs us all. As individuals, it affects our clothes, shoes, animal friends, lawns, gardens and vehicles. In our communities, it damages sidewalks, roads, buildings and bridges and leads to increased maintenance costs.”

    Ms. Hendriks pointed to the Elliot Lake Mall collapse tragedy as an example. “Salt was a contributing factor,” she noted.

    As for the province’s largest user of road salt, through its road contractors, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) says it keeps a close rein on its use. “The Ministry of Transportation takes its responsibility for the safety and mobility of the motoring public and the environment seriously,” responded Gordan Rennie, regional issues and media advisor for the Northeast. “MTO utilizes best management practices to ensure only the right amount of road salt is used for each winter storm. The ministry is fully compliant with, and in some cases exceeds, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Code of Practice for Environmental Management of Road Salt. The code was developed to reduce the environmental impact of road salt while maintaining roadway safety.”

    Mr. Rennie went on to note that “MTO uses the following approaches to maximize the effectiveness of road salt used and minimize the environmental impact: Direct Liquid Application (DLA) is used prior to winter storms to proactively apply anti-icing liquids preventing the snow and ice from bonding with the road surface. This reduces the need for road salt. You may have seen this on the road as thin white lines. In Northeastern Ontario DLA is typically used on higher volume highways such as Highways 11, 17 and 400.”

    In addition, “salt can be pre-wet with an anti-icing liquid to help it stick to the road, reducing the amount bouncing into the ditches. This enables a reduction in the salt application rate.   

    Electronic Spreader Controllers ensure a consistent application of salt across the pavement regardless of the vehicle speed. Automated Vehicle Location is used to track salt applied to the road to ensure best management practices are achieved. Road Weather Information Stations are used across the province to accurately forecast the weather and pavement conditions to effectively plan winter maintenance operations and identify the most effective response to each storm.”

    Even moving the material around is kept under close eye. “All salt is delivered in covered trucks, stored in covered facilities with impermeable bases to prevent loss to the environment,” said Mr. Rennie. “MTO works with stakeholders across Ontario, Canada and the United States to research new products and procedures to deliver better snow and ice control performance with less environmental impacts. This includes anti-icing liquids and processes to enhance the performance of road salt.”

    As to investigating road salt alternatives, Mr. Rennie noted that the “MTO continues to monitor alternatives to road salt. There are a number of alternatives, including but not limited to: calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate. These alternatives typically cost significantly more than road salt and require higher application rates than road salt to achieve the same results. There are also environmental impacts associated with the road salt alternatives.”

    Citizen groups are stepping up across the North to tackle the issues close at hand. Sudbury is a good example of that movement. The Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance (GSWA) recently released its ‘Road Salt Discussion – Summary Report (Summary Report).’ This report was the result of the Road Salt Discussion event held on February 5 at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre.

    A press release notes that at the event GSWA hosted a science panel made up of Dr. John Gunn, Canada research chair, Stressed Aquatic Systems and Director of Vale Living with Lakes Centre; Dr. Charles Ramcharan, associate professor, School of the Environment at Laurentian University; and Anoop Naik, water resources specialist, with Conservation Sudbury.

    The purpose of the event was to raise an awareness, and to explore possible solutions to increasing sodium and chloride levels in Ramsey Lake, a primary source of drinking water for over 50,000 residents in the City of Sudbury.  Ramsey’s sodium levels are approaching three times the level at which the Medical Officer of Health must be notified so patients on sodium-restricted diets can be alerted; and chloride levels are rapidly approaching a level that can harm aquatic life.

    “GSWA has formally expressed concern with the City at every opportunity with regard to the additional winter road salt required to service the Second Avenue Industrial Improvements, the proposed casino parking lot, and the numerous other road projects proposed in the recent Transportation Study Report,” the group states. “We are also concerned that the Ramsey Lake Sub-Watershed Study is not adequately considering the road salt issue.”

    As Dr. Gunn reminded us, “with our rocky thin soil, we have very little resistance to the hydraulic changes of climate change, and the current sub-watershed study is not facing this future at all.” 

  • 17 Apr 2018 12:03 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    The United States has made enormous progress in reducing water pollution since the Clean Water Act was passed nearly 50 years ago. Rivers no longer catch fire when oil slicks on their surfaces ignite. And many harbors that once were fouled with sewage now draw swimmers and boaters.

    But as Earth Day approaches, it is important to realize that new, more complex challenges are emerging. In a study published earlier this year, we found that a cocktail of chemicals from many human activities is making U.S. rivers saltier and more alkaline across the nation. Surprisingly, road salt in winter is not the only source: construction, agriculture, and many other activities also play roles across regions.

    These changes pose serious threats to drinking water supplies, urban infrastructure and natural ecosystems. Salt pollution is not currently regulated at the federal level, and state and local controls are inconsistent.

    Our research shows that when salts from different sources mix, they can have broader impacts than they would individually. It also shows the importance of supporting water quality monitoring nationwide, so that we can detect and address other pollution problems that have yet to be recognized.

    Altered waters

    Our group has been studying freshwater salinization for over 15 years. In 2005 we published a paper that demonstrated that levels of sodium chloride (common table salt) were rapidly increasing in fresh waters across the northeastern United States.

    Until that time, scientists thought that salinization was a serious problem mainly in arid regions where water evaporates rapidly, leaving salts behind. But we found that it was affecting major drinking water supplies, exceeding toxic levels for some aquatic organisms and persisting in the environment year-round, even in humid regions.

    The main cause we found was the spread of paved surfaces, such as roads and parking lots. Communities in cold regions use de-icing salts to clear snow from roads during winter, and the more roads they build, the more treatment is needed. We found that a 1 percent increase in paved surfaces could boost salt concentrations in nearby water bodies to levels more than 10 times higher than pristine forested conditions.

    In 2013, we published another study showing that rivers were becoming more alkaline across regions of the eastern United States. At that time acid rain – i.e., too much acid in rainwater, caused by air pollution – had been a well-known environmental issue for several decades. However, alkalinization was not recognized in the same way, and its effects are still poorly understood now.

    Alkalinization is the opposite of acidification: It occurs when water’s pH value increases instead of falling. As water becomes more alkaline, certain chemicals dissolved in it can become toxic. For example, ammonium is a nutrient in freshwater ecosystems, but is converted to toxic ammonia gas in significant concentrations in waters with a high pH. Alkaline conditions also enhance release of phosphorus from sediments, which can trigger nuisance blooms of algae and bacteria.

    We found that a process we called “human-accelerated weathering” was breaking down rock and releasing minerals into rivers that were making them more alkaline. The process of weathering rocks and minerals that become exported to rivers is typically slow, but we showed that land development and decades of exposure to acid rain were speeding it. We also suggested that widespread use of geologic materials in fertilizers and concrete was a factor.

    Identifying freshwater salinization syndrome

    Our study on human-accelerated weathering showed that along with sodium chloride, other dissolved salts were increasing in fresh water across large regions of the eastern United States. This made us wonder whether there could be a link to our previous work on salinization in these regions.

    We started to recognize that in theory, salt pollution and human-accelerated weathering could be sending increasing quantities of salts that were alkaline into rivers throughout the nation, and that this could increase their pH levels. We knew that ocean water, which is naturally salty, has a higher pH than fresh water because it has accumulated high levels of alkaline salts. After much analysis, we proposed that similar interconnected processes could influence salinity and pH in fresh water.

    Many sources release alkaline salts into the environment, including weathering of impervious surfaces, fertilizer and lime use in agriculture, mine drainage, irrigation runoff and winter use of road salt. Initially, parts of these alkaline salts bind to soil. But when they come into contact with sodium – for example, excess road salt – chemical reactions occur that release the alkaline salts, which then wash into freshwater ecosystems.

    We called this process freshwater salinization syndrome because it was producing multiple effects on salts, alkalinity and pH, which are fundamental chemical properties of water.

    Different causes by region

    Figuring out this process was a team project that required knowledge of limnology (the study of inland waters), geochemistry and geography. The causes vary from one location to another, but the outcomes can be similar.

    For example, rivers are becoming more saline and alkaline in parts of North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and other states that use little or no road salt. This is likely due to human-accelerated weathering in locations underlain by limestone (which dissolves when it comes in contact with acid rainwater) and in urbanized areas with lots of concrete infrastructure, as well as urban salt pollution from sewage, water softeners or fertilizers.

    Our research was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and drew on enormous quantities of monitoring data from ecosystems across the United States collected mainly by the U.S. Geological Survey. We analyzed long-term trends in the chemistry of rivers over five decades and compared these trends across different major river systems and regions.

    We also analyzed trends in major estuaries, such as the Hudson River and the Chesapeake Bay, to investigate whether increasingly alkaline inputs from rivers could potentially influence the chemistry of coastal waters. Our results show that changes in salts can alter concentrations of pollutants such as excess phosphorus and nutrients that are bound up in sediments at these sites.

    Managing salt pollution

    Freshwater salinization syndrome is affecting drinking water supplies in many parts of the United States. In some cases it is altering the taste of water or threatening the health of people with hypertension.

    There is growing concern that salts in fresh water can corrode water pipes and release toxic metals such as lead into drinking water. They also can trigger reactions that mobilize other contaminants and pollutants from soils into rivers.

    As other scientists have shown, mixtures of salts can be more toxic to aquatic life than just one salt alone. The Environmental Protection Agency does not currently regulate salts as primary contaminants in drinking water, and state and local regulation of salt releases over wide areas from activities such as road treatment are sparse and inconsistent.

    We believe there is a serious need for federal regulations and regional plans to reduce salt pollution in fresh water. One strategy would be to reduce use of road salts by calibrating application and adjusting application rates based on temperature. In addition, not all salts are created equal: It may be more efficient to use certain salts as deicers at lower temperatures. Finally, organic de-icing solutions use less salt than conventional versions.

    New forms of water pollution are constantly emerging, and it is important to identify how different human activities accelerate geological processes in nature. Fresh water accounts for only about 3 percent of the Earth’s total water supply (the rest is in the oceans), and there will always be a need for better understanding and management of this precious resource.

  • 13 Apr 2018 9:16 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    The company that intends to gradually discharge 1.3 million cubic metres of salt into the Shubenacadie River estuary says it searched unsuccessfully for disposal alternatives.

    “The Alton environmental assessment in 2007 looked at commercial and technical alternatives to brine release, but they were not considered economic or feasible,” said Lori MacLean, spokeswoman for Alton Natural Gas Storage LP.

    “Recently, commercial and technical alternatives to brine release into the tidal estuary were revisited by the Alton team, including underground storage, salt market and evaporation, but again were not found to be commercially or technically feasible.”

    The company, a subsidiary of AltaGas, plans to draw nearly 10,000 cubic metres of water daily from the Shubenacadie River estuary at Fort Ellis and propel it through a 12-kilometre underground pipeline to the Brentwood Road cavern site. There, the water will be pumped nearly 1,000 metres underground to flush out salt, creating two caverns, each about the size of an average office building and capable of storing up to six billion cubic feet of natural gas.

    The brine created by the salt dissolution will then be pumped back to the estuary for release into the river system, a gradual discharge of 1.3 million cubic metres of salt over a two- to three-year period.

    There have been recent suggestions that the salt brine could be used by the province to de-ice some of its highways.

    Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines was not available for an interview this week but spokeswoman Marla MacInnis said in an email that the department is not involved in any discussions with Alton Gas.

    She said the 240,000 tonnes of salt used annually on Nova Scotia highways comes from Pugwash, Magdalen Islands and the Bahamas. The average cost of buying the salt, including trucking to locations, is $81 per tonne. The cost to apply the salt is separate. The salt is hauled to the province’s 53 storage locations and is spread in both brine and rock form.

    The Canadian Salt Company runs the mine in Pugwash that produces a good portion of the highway salt. The 2007 environmental assessment application from Alton Gas explained that the sale of brine to the Canadian Salt Company or to Sifto Canada and the “supply of brine to provincial and municipal users for winter maintenance of roads and producing evaporated salt for commercial sale were investigated.”

    The application said that the total consumption of brine in the province for pre-wetting highways during the winter season was expected to reach a maximum of 2,800 cubic metres a year.

    “The potential market for Alton brine as a pre-wetting supply is very small and represents less than one day of Alton production per year,” according to the environment application.

    It concluded that the evaporation facilities at Canadian Salt and Sifto consume saturated brine at an average combined rate of 1,560 cubic metres per day.

    “Cost of brine generation is low while brine quality and supply are well established and secure,” the application said. “Freight cost for delivering brine from Alton to producers is estimated at 13 times the cost of brine produced on site.”

    A scenario of building an evaporator plant with downstream equipment and storage for the Alton project was also considered.

    “On a capital and operating cost basis alone, such a facility cannot compete with the established producers,” the environmental registration report said. “In addition, the current markets are over-supplied and volumes such as those contemplated from Alton are excessive when compared even to national volumes for evaporated salt.”

    MacLean said Alton’s brine release will take place in the Shubenacadie’s “powerful tidal estuary that fills with salt water from the ocean twice a day.”

    She said that brining operations at Alton must stop when the river’s natural salinity reaches 28 parts per thousand, which is within the range of salinity for the river. As designed, salinity at the Alton discharge location must mirror the conditions in the river, MacLean said.

    “If a technical or economic alternative to brine release is identified, Alton would be open to exploring that,” MacLean said.

    The company announced recently that the anticipated start date for storing gas in the caverns has been moved up to sometime in 2021. Prior to that undetermined date, the brining process will take two to three years.

    The project is strongly opposed by area residents, environmentalists and the nearby Indian Brook First Nation.

  • 13 Apr 2018 6:09 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    You wouldn’t know to look at the beautiful lake which borders the city of Sudbury in northern Ontario, but the lake is in crisis.

    The small city of over 160,000 is billed as the “city of lakes” but gets much of its drinking water from the large Ramsey Lake. That might not be possible in a few years, and the entire lake ecosystem could be severely damaged.

    A report this week says sodium levels are at about three times the level where people on sodium restricted diets must be notified and chloride levels are nearing a concentration that can harm aquatic life.

    The Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance released its reporte this week.

    Five Million tonnes

    Canada uses some five million tonnes of industrial salt to combat snow and ice on roads to make them safer in winter.

    The reason is road salt, and it’s an issue that’s becoming an increasing concern in areas around Canada.

    All that salty meltwater runs off into the environment where it become toxic to plants and aquatic life.

    John Gunn, a Canada Research Chair on stressed aquatic systems, was one of the panelists gathered by the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance meeting on Monday.  . Quoted by the CBC he noted that   “As salt rises you have to assume that most things that leave the land and other pollutants or nutrients are also entering the lake”.  He pointed out the salt issue is an indicator of how we’re treating our land and waterways.

    The meeting discussed several possible alternatives from using less salt, to using sand and abrasives only in the watershed area, to seeking de-icing alternative more eco-friendly products such as beet, pickle, or potato juice.

    Attendees said that the city should spend as much money on watershed management and ensuring clean water as its investments into new casino and new arts centre.

  • 22 Mar 2018 6:12 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.

    Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods.

    Sustainable Development Goal 6 commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution.

    Take action

    Wherever you are and whatever you do on March 22, make it about nature and water.

  • 23 Feb 2018 3:45 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    The Ontario NDP is calling on the provincial government to release details of its revised arrangement with one of the maintenance contractors responsible for plowing and sanding the province's highways.

    Carillion Canada has contracts to maintain the highways in eight different parts of the province; in the north, that includes from Thunder Bay east to Marathon and Longlac and around the Huntsville area. Carillion's Canadian subsidiary received creditor protection after its U.K.-based parent went into liquidation in January.

    At the time, the province and Carillion announced they reached an arrangement "to ensure these services continue uninterrupted for the remainder of this winter." In the legislature on Wednesday, Ontario NDP transportation critic Wayne Gates said he wanted more details.

    "It's impossible to say anything for sure because the government will not release the contract," Gates told CBC News. "The contract's being paid by ... taxpayers' money; that agreement should be given to all the residents of Ontario."

    "If you have an agreement with Carillion to last until May, or whatever the length of the agreement is, they have, I believe they have an obligation to release that ... so we can see the agreement," he continued.

    In its creditor protection filing, Carillion said cash flow projections showed the company "should have sufficient cash on hand to remain operational through the week ending February 17, 2018," and that it would explore additional financing.

    Company spokesperson Cody Johnstone told CBC News on Feb. 22 that "operations are continuing on" but he couldn't get into specifics; he added that Carillion doesn't anticipate any changes to service standards and that all employees continue to be paid.

    The company has said its arrangement with the province "protects over 1,100 jobs in Ontario."

    'Paying some key suppliers'

    In response to Gates's query in question period on Wednesday, Minister of Transportation Kathryn McGarry said that under the current arrangement, the province "is paying some key suppliers directly for critical tools like road salt and equipment repair and leasing."

    "We are only paying Carillion for the services they provide, not paying any of Carillion's corporate costs," she continued.

    McGarry, as well as ministry officials, said that the province is "closely monitoring" money paid to the company to ensure employees and suppliers are paid. "To date we have no concerns in that regard," ministry spokesperson Annemarie Piscopo told CBC News.

    Gates said the province's ability to ensure highways remain safe in the winter should be of the upmost importance. "When you look at the safety of our roads, we're talking about our kids, our grandkids, our first responders," he said.

    Replying to Gates's questions in the legislature, McGarry said opposition parties were engaging in "fear mongering" on the highway file and that she has offered to meet with MPPs concerned with the issue.

    "We are committed to ensure that we have the roads safe and clear for our folks that are travelling the highway," she said. "Our number one priority is to make sure that we keep our roads safe right to the end of the winter season."

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