Monday, March 24, 2008

Taconite Good, Road Salt Bad?

As we made our epic journey down to Wabasso for Easter, I flipped through the Sunday Op-Ed section of the Strib.

One headline caught my eye.

"The Trouble With Road Salt".

I showed Bluewoman the headline and posed the question, "what do you think I'll write about?"

She knew instantly...

If road salt is so bad for the environment, what about the controversial use of taconite tailings? Remember, the mining industry can no longer dump them in Lake Superior but we can use them on roads.
The effort to reduce road-salt use is driven largely by the legal requirement to protect aquatic life. However, as is often the case with environmental regulation, reduced road-salt pollution would have other benefits. A well-tuned adaptive management strategy could actually improve winter-driving conditions using less road salt (a shift from a brawn strategy to a brains strategy). Using less road salt would reduce corrosion of vehicles and bridge decks. According to a study by the Federal Highway Administration, bridge-deck corrosion costs $8.3 billion per year in direct costs (and 10 times more in indirect costs), much of it caused by salt. The same study reported that $23.4 billion is spent annually to avoid or repair corrosion to vehicles. The effort to reduce road-salt use would probably yield economic benefits that far exceed costs.

Some would argue the same with taconite tailings.


TwoPutt said...

This is an issue that's going to need a push from the bottom up - at the local level.

It is mind boggling that some people thought tactonite tailings in roadways is a good idea.

It is an idea that must be stopped.

allison sara said...

Not familiar with the use of taconite tailings on roads - could you elaborate?