County’s supplier not filling emergency orders

Last updated: February 13. 2014 10:12PM - 2147 Views
By Jon O’Connell joconnell@civitasmedia.com

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Running low on road salt and unable to get it anywhere, Nanticoke City Finance Manager Donna Wall said the city has a plan for cleaning up Thursday’s storm.

“They’re going to plow, plow, plow,” she said.

American Rock Salt, the New York-based road salt producer, has frozen all emergency salt orders. The provider sells salt to all Luzerne County municipalities.

Municipalities have to estimate their salt needs one year in advance, and may order as much as 140 percent of that estimate before emergency stores are tapped. Emergency salt requests must go through the county’s Emergency Management Agency.

The last five winters have been mild, and the seemingly incessant snowfall this winter caught everyone off guard, Wall said. Nanticoke already has gone through 700 tons of salt this winter, Wall said.

As of Thursday morning, Nanticoke had about 10 tons left in its storage shed. They are using 22 tons of aggregate anti-skid, a gravel material cut in with the remaining rock salt, to help supplies last longer.

Contracted city plow trucks spreading salt are instructed to prioritize when salting Nanticoke’s 32 1/4 miles of streets and must first treat school zones, intersections and hills.

Wall had made a formal request to PennDOT for an emergency supply of salt this week, but was denied.

“I asked for 50 tons, but I would have taken anything,” Wall said.

Beyond projections

Luzerne County has far exceeded its projected road salt usage on state roads this year, PennDOT reports, by about 3,000 tons.

As of Monday, the county had spread 29,066 tons, the most for any of PennDOT’s six District-4 counties.

Lackawanna County used about 28,000 tons of salt.

Luzerne County also steals the show in brine consumption with crews spraying 123,000 gallons of the preventative salt water mix before snowfall. Lackawanna County trails behind with 85,238 gallons used so far this winter.

Towns keeping up

In Wilkes-Barre, a salt shipment arrived earlier this week bringing the city’s reserves to about 900 tons. The city had used almost all of its salt for the year, 1,500 tons out of about 1,700 tons, before receiving the extra salt.

Scranton was loaned 200 tons of salt from PennDOT this week. The city must repay the department in salt. Scranton requested the salt through the Lackawanna County EMA director’s office.

Hanover Township had a close call last week when its reserves ran low.

A township supervisor and road department liaison, Joe Yudichak, said the township still has a shipment left on its contract with American Rock Salt, but deliveries have been delayed. Last week the township secured an emergency shipment from another supplier to get them through this storm.

“We’re good,” Yudichak said. “We got enough for this storm, and we should have enough for a little duster or two.”

In West Wyoming, plow trucks should be well-stocked to tackle possibly five more snow storms with 27 or 28 tons on hand, borough council member Eileen Cipriani said.

“We use about 5 tons a storm. Typically we go through three (truckloads) a year, and there’s 22 tons per truckload,” Cipriani said. “Right now, we’ve gotten five (truckloads), so we’re going through a lot of salt.”

Concerned about American Rock Salt’s special-order freeze, Cipriani said the borough tried to buy more from two other suppliers, but it was denied.

The Salt Institute, a nonprofit trade association, published a statement Feb. 6 that said there is no salt shortage, but transporting it has grown cumbersome and expensive due to high demand and poor travel conditions across the eastern states.

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