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Seattle Passes on the Salt for Snowy Streets

December 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The city of Seattle is taking a stand and NOT using salt on the snow and ice. Many large metropolitan cities like New York and Chicago still apply it after a heavy snowfall, because it works.

However, Seattle’s department of transportation will go green on the white stuff. The belief is the salt isn’t good for the environment and is corrosive for streets and cars.

Instead sand and rubber plowing has been the major method of clearing road ways. It isn’t the most effective way, just the cleanest way to deal with snow/ice. Even the Seattle police have to live with this decision, and will respond to many calls on foot, rather than drive up a snowy hill.

There’s a debate brewing about the uses of salt on Seattle roads, and if the method is truly madness.

Reporter Kathy Mulady and Robert McClure of the Seattle PI covered the unsalty streets on Seattle.

In the mid-1990s, the city decided not to use the more corrosive salt, and instead it uses GeoMelt C, a liquid blend of calcium chloride in a soy base. The de-icer is thought to be gentler on the environment and considered better for the Puget Sound waterway, where eventually much of it will end up.

In that same Seattle PI article, a 2005 study found that some streams were one-quarter as salty as sea water, and were killing animals and fish. A second study, that year found that the use of rock salt to melt street ice had increased a hundredfold nationally since 1940.

Will salt less on Seattle streets hurt or help more when everything melts?

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