Submitted by AMSC Risk Management Services
We’ve already had our first (and in some cases, second) blast of snow already this fall, and winter is just around the corner. Regular road maintenance may be a challenge this season due to a North American shortage of road salt.
What caused the shortage? A labour strike at one of the world’s largest industrial salt mines slowed down production, resulting in depleted reserves. A second major mine experienced flooding in its shafts that could put it out of optimal production for years to come. Other suppliers just cannot keep up with the demand left by these supply disruptions.
The need for rock salt has already been exceeding annual production levels, largely in order to address the demands of our residents, who expect safe roads and will not tolerate inconveniences or the liability for unsafe conditions. The winter of 2017/18 was particularly tough, including an ice event in April that consumed all available salt and depleted reserves.
Although supply shortages haven’t been reported yet in Alberta as traction material is more common, this could change the further we get into the winter season. Well-documented snow clearing and de-icing efforts will likely be more critical than ever this year. Finding alternatives or modifying mixtures may help to stretch out supplies. Additional signage for icy conditions and supply conservation should also be considered in your risk management efforts.
For additional information on salt and traction best practices, contact Landscape Alberta at 800-378-3198 or www.landscape-alberta.com.