Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Say no to salted roads


Another snowstorm, a fine heavy pack for Baldy, and with that snow arrived on Highway 75 and the city of Sun Valley a generous dousing of sand laced with magnesium chloride, chemical liquids with up to a 15 percent mixture of salt.

You've been wondering why our streets are melting when the temperatures are below freezing, why we drive and wade through a mucky brown slush that clings to the under-sides of our cars, in the wheel wells and on the supposedly bombproof paint finishes of our cars causing corrosion.

Magnesium chloride, the New West's deicer of choice, is a nasty, environmentally inju-rious solution to icy winter roads. Although Ketchum is not using magnesium chloride, the state disperses it within the city limits, and our cars carry it all over the streets of Ketchum.

Magnesium chloride is washed down our storm drains directly into the river where its chemicals disrupt the food chain, degrading groundwater, vegetation, fish and bird life.

Magnesium chloride and sand mixed with snow forms a vapor that ends up on poles and electrical equipment and can cause power outages and short circuits.

Mixed with pulverized sand, magnesium chloride chemicals are blown up into the air we breathe, especially in the spring when the air is dry and the winds strong.

Magnesium chloride is po-tentially harmful to pets as it can burn their feet or cause them to be sick after licking their paws.

It is our responsibility to demand the termination of the use of this harmful substance. The costs far outweigh any benefits magnesium chloride offers. There are alternatives. Simple sand and gravel with 2 to 4 percent salt could be used in Sun Valley, as Ketchum does. The Idaho Transportation Department could use calcium magnesium acetate which is a biodegradable and more envi-ronmentally friendly, non chlo-ride deicing chemical. Pitkin County, Colo., made the switch several years ago after an ex-tensive study.

Snow-covered roads allowed to melt naturally invite pedes-trian traffic and enhance the wintry character of our town.

If you are concerned about the use of these chemicals, please contact: Sun Valley City Hall at 622-4438 or ITD at http://itd.idaho.gov/

Karen McCall

Ketchum




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