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  • 31 Jan 2019 7:18 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/whatson-story/9149423-peterborough-s-alternatives-to-road-salt-for-snow-and-ice-clearing/

    We waited long enough for its arrival and now that it's here, let's hope the snow is here to stay, at least for a while!

    While the snow makes the landscape look lovely this time of year, and many winter enthusiasts are happy to finally be hitting the ski slopes and trails, getting around can be stressful in snowy and icy conditions.

    Unfortunately, up-and-down temperatures along with freeze and thaw tendencies of our recent winters seem to leave us with sheets of ice hiding between layers of snow. The slush that comes along with intermittent rain freezes into thick, icy mounds making walkways challenging to navigate and some roads, sidewalks, and driveways deceptively slippery.

    Salt (sodium chloride) is commonly used for reducing the amount of ice around homes, on sidewalks, and on many commercial properties. It is relatively inexpensive and it works quickly to break up ice, making it easier to clear, but there are many reasons to rethink its use around your home or office.

    Before you bring out the salt, consider its impact on your property, your pets, and the environment.

    Salt is corrosive and can cause damage to vehicles and bikes. It is easily tracked inside on the treads of boots causing damage to footwear, carpets, rugs, and flooring. If you have pets, salt can irritate paws and it can be harmful if ingested.

    Salt impacts your gardens, too. It can raise the pH of your soil and make it less fertile. The health of trees, shrubs, grasses, and plants that line salted driveways and walkways can deteriorate if the concentration of salt becomes too high. Root systems are easily damaged by salt, making uptake of water difficult for plants. The drought-like conditions created by excess salt causes plants to dry out.

    Spreading sidewalk salt can have a negative effect on your property, but it is also important to recognize that the impacts extend beyond your yard. Salt dissolves in water, which means that it is easily carried into groundwater. Once the spring thaw and April showers hit, salt runs off into storm sewers increasing concentration in our waterways, and affecting plants and animals in our rivers, streams and lakes.

    GreenUP's manager of water programs, Heather Ray, explains, "The increased salinization of freshwater waterways is a growing concern for many areas of Ontario. Salt interacts with the bonds between heavy metals and sediments, which can increase harm to aquatic species; salt can block the movement of oxygen into deeper, cooler water, impacting aquatic species such as lake trout. In some locations within Ontario, saltwater species are being found in freshwater areas because of the water's high salinity. High salt levels in water can also impact drinking water."

    According to a recent report by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, "Back to Basics: Clean Water," in 2017 the town of Simcoe experienced high salt levels in the town's drinking water, which resulted in the Haldimand-Norfolk health officer to issue a "do not consume" warning for people with high blood pressure and sodium-restricted diets.

    This is very concerning to think that all the road salt use throughout the season could cause such a drastic impact. In the city of Peterborough, straight salt is used on all arterial and collector streets only when weather conditions and temperatures allow for its use and a mix of sand/salt is used on all of our residential streets.

    "The responsible use of salt lays within the hands of all that use it," says Brian Jobbit, the city of Peterborough's manager of public works. "Our fleet of trucks is equipped with plows and material spreaders that are all computer-controlled for application rates based on the material being spread. The application rates for salt are reduced in accordance with our source water protection zones and we report our salt usage annually to Environment Canada. Each year we retrain all of our staff on winter control techniques and the application of materials at the right time, right rate, and right place so we stay diligent in the use of our winter materials, such as salt."

    Approximately five million tonnes of road salt is applied in Canada each year. Undoubtedly, this has reduced the number of accidents and injuries associated with icy winter conditions but this comes with a cost to the environment. We expect that climate change will bring more extreme weather and unfortunately, it has been shown that chloride concentrations are higher in years with more precipitation and total snow depth.

    Ray continues, "Salt is a relatively low concern for our local waterways, but as the water within our watershed flows downstream to Lake Ontario, the accumulation of salt creates concern for other waterways and communities. Reducing the amount of salt we use in our area can go a long way to reduce salt in the waters that we share with our neighbours."

    There are many products on the market that work much like salt without the environmental impacts. On a large scale, many municipalities are opting for salt alternatives when de-icing roadways. Several cities in Quebec use an organic spray made from sugar beets to remove ice from roads. For years, Toronto has also used the same beet mixture to de-ice roads. The solution is more expensive but it has less impact on the environment and is used when temperatures dip below the point of salt's effectiveness, which is at -10 C; the beet solution works to -32 C.

    For around your home there are many alternatives to salt that can help to improve slippery conditions. Sand is a common alternative that creates traction in icy areas. Non-clumping Kitty Litter and fireplace ashes are also great substitutes. Just be sure not to track them indoors where they can make a mess.

    The GreenUP Store carries a product, Clean and Green Ice Melter by Swish, that is gentle on vegetation, concrete, water and floors. It is not corrosive and is completely safe to handle with bare hands, so it's safer around children and pets, too. This product continues to melt ice below -22 C, so it has the capacity to work at the cold temperatures we experience in the Kawarthas, and beyond the effectiveness of salt.

    Whatever you are spreading at home or work, a little will go a long way. Use any de-icing product sparingly and give it time to work. Be sure to shovel first to reduce the need to spend money on additional products. Ensure your downspouts are directed away from paths and driveways to prevent puddling and subsequent ice spots from forming. If you must use salt, you only need one handful (about 20 grams) per square metre of area, so use it sparingly.

    Enjoy the beauty of winter and whether you're on the road, the trail, the sidewalk, or the front stoop, slow down and take time to consider the best solutions for winter snow and ice removal that safeguard our gardens, help wildlife and protect water.




  • 28 Jan 2019 1:55 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://cottagelife.com/outdoors/best-practices-for-reducing-the-effects-of-road-salt-at-the-cottage/

    road-salt-winter-roads-slushy-snow-ice

    Whether you’re walking or driving to work, winter in Canada means braving icy, slushy, and snowy commutes. The first line of defence against snow and ice for many Canadians are road salts, and it’s not uncommon to see heavy amounts of salt coating streets and sidewalks. Environment Canada estimates that 5 million tonnes of road salts are used annually to keep Canadian drivers safe on the road, and this number doesn’t include the amount that homeowners purchase to deice their walkways and driveways. The problem is that road salts don’t break down, instead washing away and causing harmful chloride levels to build up over time in nearby soils, rivers, lakes, and even groundwater. Even when the snow finally melts and summer arrives, the lakes and waterways around cottage properties may still be feeling the effects from road salts used in wintertime.

    For plants and animals that live in freshwater lakes and streams, an increase in chloride levels is bad news. Just like you couldn’t toss a freshwater species of fish like a smallmouth bass into the ocean and expect it to survive, studies suggest that rising chloride levels in freshwater environments can be dangerous for aquatic life. Research by the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority (TRCA) indicates that the amount of chloride in Toronto creeks is increasing year by year, while a 2016 study by TRCA staff showed that the abundance of aquatic invertebrates that are particularly sensitive to chloride decreased between 2002 and 2012.

    For cottagers and waterfront property owners who enjoy swimming, boating, or fishing in cottage country, it’s important to consider the effects road salts can have. Christy Doyle, Director of Environmental and Watershed Programs with the Muskoka Watershed Council, says road salt “gets absorbed into roadside plants, licked up by wildlife, or accumulates in aquatic ecosystems.” High levels of salt in waterways can kill zooplankton, tiny living creatures that form the basis of aquatic food webs. Zooplankton will chow down on microscopic plants like green algae, otherwise known as phytoplankton. The loss of zooplankton could “inversely cause the amount of phytoplankton they feed on to go up, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and water clarity” says Doyle.

    There are some best practices you can deploy to reduce the effects of road salt at your home or cottage. The Muskoka Watershed Council website recommends that before reaching for the bag of road salt, grab your snow shovel instead and clear as much snow and ice from your walkway and driveway as possible. If you do choose to apply road salt, remember that a little goes a long way: piling on layer after layer of salt won’t speed up the melting rate. You can also consider alternatives to road salt, such as sand. Some municipalities across Canada and the United States are trying innovative alternatives to road salt, including mixtures of beet juice, garlic salt, and cheese brine. By taking action in the winter to reduce the amount of salt runoff into the environment, you can help protect the water around your cottage property from salt pollution into the summer season and beyond.


    Whether you’re walking or driving to work, winter in Canada means braving icy, slushy, and snowy commutes. The first line of defence against snow and ice for many Canadians are road salts, and it’s not uncommon to see heavy amounts of salt coating streets and sidewalks. Environment Canada estimates that 5 million tonnes of road salts are used annually to keep Canadian drivers safe on the road, and this number doesn’t include the amount that homeowners purchase to deice their walkways and driveways. The problem is that road salts don’t break down, instead washing away and causing harmful chloride levels to build up over time in nearby soils, rivers, lakes, and even groundwater. Even when the snow finally melts and summer arrives, the lakes and waterways around cottage properties may still be feeling the effects from road salts used in wintertime.

    For plants and animals that live in freshwater lakes and streams, an increase in chloride levels is bad news. Just like you couldn’t toss a freshwater species of fish like a smallmouth bass into the ocean and expect it to survive, studies suggest that rising chloride levels in freshwater environments can be dangerous for aquatic life. Research by the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority (TRCA) indicates that the amount of chloride in Toronto creeks is increasing year by year, while a 2016 study by TRCA staff showed that the abundance of aquatic invertebrates that are particularly sensitive to chloride decreased between 2002 and 2012.

    For cottagers and waterfront property owners who enjoy swimming, boating, or fishing in cottage country, it’s important to consider the effects road salts can have. Christy Doyle, Director of Environmental and Watershed Programs with the Muskoka Watershed Council, says road salt “gets absorbed into roadside plants, licked up by wildlife, or accumulates in aquatic ecosystems.” High levels of salt in waterways can kill zooplankton, tiny living creatures that form the basis of aquatic food webs. Zooplankton will chow down on microscopic plants like green algae, otherwise known as phytoplankton. The loss of zooplankton could “inversely cause the amount of phytoplankton they feed on to go up, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and water clarity” says Doyle.

    There are some best practices you can deploy to reduce the effects of road salt at your home or cottage. The Muskoka Watershed Council website recommends that before reaching for the bag of road salt, grab your snow shovel instead and clear as much snow and ice from your walkway and driveway as possible. If you do choose to apply road salt, remember that a little goes a long way: piling on layer after layer of salt won’t speed up the melting rate. You can also consider alternatives to road salt, such as sand. Some municipalities across Canada and the United States are trying innovative alternatives to road salt, including mixtures of beet juice, garlic salt, and cheese brine. By taking action in the winter to reduce the amount of salt runoff into the environment, you can help protect the water around your cottage property from salt pollution into the summer season and beyond.


  • 08 Jan 2019 5:56 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.kenoraonline.com/local/city-defends-salt-strategy

    City crews are out in the community clearing away snow after the winter storm.

    Kenora's icy roads were front and centre yesterday, as operations manager Jeff Hawley led this month's committee of the whole by addressing questions about the city's use of salt.

    After confirming the city does, in fact, buy about 500 metric tons of salt and sand a year for winter road maintenance, Hawley repeated his comments from yesterday, saying the mix of salt and sand is only useful within a certain temperature range. Below -18, the salt is as effective in melting ice and snow, but the mix still adds traction, he noted.

    By comparison, MTO uses pre-treated or pre-wetted rock salt on its highways, in an effort to pre-treat pavement. This makes snow and ice removal easier.

    In their Winter 2018 edition of Road Talk, the ministry says they'll use between 90 kg and 130 kg of pre-treated rock salt for every kilometer of two-lane highway. This compares with 130 kg to 170 kg of dry rock salt for every kilometer of two-lane highway.

    Some communities will also use a salt-water or brine solution on their highways. However, Transportation Association of Canada discourages the use of salt (sodium choloride -- NaCL), due to the impact on:

    • air quality
    • surface and ground water
    • vegetation
    • soil
    • wildlife
    • vehicle and structural corrosion

    A straight salt application costs about $100 a ton. The cost of brine can be as about eight cents a gallon, but adding the clean-up costs can quickly inflate the cost to $1,900/ton, according to landscapers and property managers with the American Snow and Ice Management Association.

    According to MTO, their goal is to meet the bare pavement standard after winter storms 90 per cent of the time. Their standard varies depending on winter traffic volume and road type. Some highways with low traffic remain snow packed for most of the winter.

    Otherwise, standard timeframes following the end of a storm are:

    • Eight hours for freeways and multi-lane highways, e.g. Highway 401, Queen Elizabeth Way, Highway 11 four-lane sections (Class 1).
    • Sixteen hours for high traffic volume, two-lane highways, e.g. Highway 17, Trans-Canada (Class 2).
    • Twenty-four hours for medium traffic volume, two-lane highways, e.g. Highway 35 (Class 3).
    • Twenty-four hours to centre bare for low volume, two-lane highways, e.g. Highway 516 (Class 4).

    City of Kenora roads are cleared based on three priority levels:

    • Priority 1 – these roads are cleared first and will be cleared within 36 hours of a snowfall event
    • Priority 2 – these roads will be cleared AFTER priority 1 roads but these roads will also be cleared within 36 hours of a snowfall event
    • Priority 3 – these roads will be cleared AFTER priority 1 and 2 roads are cleared and within 72 hours of a snowfall event


  • 02 Jan 2019 6:14 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/health/medical/9-things-doctors-wish-you-knew-about-shovelling-snow/ss-BBRHzql?ocid=spartanntp#image=8

    Shoveling snow is strenuous

    Shoveling snow is physically taxing even for those in good shape. For those at high risk for heart disease, shoveling snow can be especially dangerous because of the strain that it puts on the heart. 'In the cold weather, your smaller arteries, particularly in your feet and arms, have a tendency to constrict, and it creates a lot of back pressure on the heart,' says Shoeb Sitafalwalla, MD, cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. 'This, combined with the fact that you're lifting or shoveling heavy amounts of snow, increases the heart rate and oxygen demand on the heart.' If you have a pre-existing heart condition, you risk taxing your heart to a level that it simply can't handle, Dr. Sitafalwalla says. If you have coronary artery disease, heart failure, congestive heart failure, a weakened heart muscle, or tight or leaky valves that impede blood flow to the heart, it's best to avoid shoveling snow altogether. Find out the 15 life-saving tips to prevent heart disease.

    Don't eat a big meal before shoveling snow

    Your gut will demand more blood to digest food, so you have less available for your heart. 'This adds more strain to an already strained system,' Dr. Sitafalwalla says. Avoid moderate or heavy alcohol use before shoveling snow as well. People may think the alcohol will warm them up, but the liquor is actually constricting the blood vessels, creating more back pressure on the heart.

    Stay in shape year round

    Stephen Kopecky, MD, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says people should begin getting in shape a few months prior to when they anticipate having to shovel snow. As physically taxing shoveling snow can be, those who exercise often and don't have any pre-existing heart conditions can usually complete the task without major problems. For those who are inactive, Dr. Kopecky says they have a 70 to 80 percent higher risk of having a heart attack while shoveling that those who are active on a regular basis. Here are 15 weird things that happen to your body in the winter.

    Do a warm-up

    Stretch prior to shoveling to avoid back spasms and injuries. Back injuries are common, especially when shoveling heavy and wet snow, so a quick warm-up can help your body prepare for the strenuous task ahead. Dr. Kopecky recommends squats, toe touches, and stretching your arms and legs. Additionally, Dr. Sitafalwalla says proper footwear with a firm grip is essential to help reduce falls on slippery driveways.

    Shovel frequently

    If a major snowstorm is in the forecast, make sure to shovel a few times throughout the storm (if it's safe!) instead of waiting until it's over. Shoveling or blowing smaller amounts of snow more frequently is less taxing than shoveling heavier and wetter snow all at once. Remember: Push the snow across the driveway and don't lift it, says Dr. Kopecky, since lifting the snow raises blood pressure. Here are 11 surprising facts you never knew about snow.

    What to do if you feel discomfort

    'If you feel discomfort—chest pain, chest tightness, and shortness of breath—stop shoveling,' Dr. Kopecky says. If the discomfort does not go away within five minutes, and you have medications for a pre-existing heart condition, take you pills. Also try finding someone to sit with until symptoms dissipate, so you're alone if something happens. Dr. Kopecky advises individuals to go to the emergency room if discomfort persists for 20 minutes after shoveling.

    Consider getting someone to clear the snow for you

    As you age, seek the help of a younger neighbor or a snow-removal service when it comes time to shovel snow. 'If you have a heart condition, feel free to stimulate your locate economy and get some people around you to take care of it,' says Dr. Sitafalwalla.

    Know the warning signs of heart disease

    There are several general warning signs of heart disease. If you notice any of the following, it's important to consult a physician and avoid shoveling snow: 1) chest pain, which can also be described as a chest pressure, burning, or discomfort, which occurs upon exertion and calms down at rest; 2) 'chest discomfort can often radiate to the arms, the neck, the back, and even the jaw, so that should be paid attention to as well,' says Dr. Sitafalwalla; and 3) severe or unusual shortness of breath is another warning sign of heart disease. 4) High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are also risk factors for pre-existing heart disease. Some women can feel all the above symptoms, but they can also feel none of them. For those who don't experience any telling symptoms, Dr. Sitafalwalla says to be aware if the person expresses a vague sense of anxiety, severe fatigue, or discomfort near their chest or heart. Here are 7 silent signs of a heart attack.

    Shoveling snow burns tons of calories

    If you're up for the physical task of shoveling snow, it can be a real calorie burner. According to Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound person shoveling by hand can burn up to 180 calories in 30 minutes. If the snow is coming down and you're shoveling several times during the storm, the calories burned shoveling snow can add up pretty quickly! 

  • 14 Dec 2018 7:31 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/drones-wood-chips-and-beet-brine-now-part-of-cities-arsenal-in-war-on-winter-1.4216841

    A snowblower piles snow

    A snowblower piles snow at the city's newest dump at Blue Bonnets as snow removal operations continue in Montreal on February 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

    cities-arsenal-in-war-on-winter-1.4216841

    MONTREAL -- Keeping Canadian city streets clear in winter has been a source of aggravation since the days when work details shovelled snow into horse-drawn sleds.

    But as the coldest months of the year arrive, Canadian municipalities are increasingly turning to innovative solutions to address the problem. Apps, drones, new machinery and alternatives to traditional materials are being introduced to balance safety and efficiency with budget constraints.

    In Montreal, where every winter authorities have to remove some 12 million cubic metres of snow from streets and sidewalks covering a combined 10,000 kilometres, all these solutions are set to be deployed, according to city spokesman Philippe Sabourin.

    To help figure out where to put all that snow, the city this year will dispatch drones to fly over the city's massive snow dumps and identify spaces where more can be added.

    The city's Angrignon dump can reach "something like 10 storeys high, more than four football fields long, so we're using drones to optimize the space, because it's so high that we cannot see the top of the hill," Sabourin said.

    Last year, the Projet Montreal administration faced criticism after above-average snowfalls led to overflowing dumps, tardy snow clearing and a jump in complaints from citizens who slipped and fell on uncleared sidewalks.

    To address those concerns, the city has announced improvements to its Info-Neige application, which tracks snow-removal operations in real time and helps citizens find free parking when streets are blocked.

    One app linked to Info-Neige is a kind of snowplow snitch line, allowing citizens to send the city photos of badly cleared sidewalks. Another helps people find cars towed during snow-clearing operations, Sabourin said.

    A big part of the snow removal problem is the cost -- about $1 million for each centimetre of accumulated snow, he said.

    This year, the challenge is greater because a strike at the Goderich, Ont. salt mine has led to price increases. Montreal this year is paying 30 per cent more to import road salt from Chile.

    Other cities are looking for ways to turn away from traditional rock salt, which has been found to corrode infrastructure and pose a risk to plants, animals and waterways.

    Saskatoon is following Switzerland's lead and testing wood chips to improve traction on roads, while in the United States, there have been reports of cheese brine, pickle brine and potato juice being tested as de-icers.

    Several Canadian cities, including Calgary, have been experimenting with a mixture of sugar beet molasses and salt brine as a de-icing agent.

    The beet brine is less corrosive than pure salt, and the product's slight stickiness allows it to stay in place, meaning less product is needed, Jim Fraser, Calgary's central district roads manager, said in an email.

    Fraser said that based on promising results it has quadrupled its beet brine order from 30,000 litres last year to 120,000 litres for the 2018-2019 season.

    While Montreal has found the beet product clogs equipment and can stain clothing and carpets, Calgary hasn't had that problem.

    The city has been using beet brine mostly in industrial areas, but it has found the product easy to apply and no harder to remove from vehicles than road salt. "Anecdotally, the product has easily washed off clothing of city staff," Fraser said.

    Edmonton, meanwhile, has been testing an anti-icing calcium chloride brine spray on its roads before plowing. It hopes the alternative to sand or rock salt will save money, reduce the environmental impact and improve safety by ridding streets of snow and ice more quickly.

    Infrastructure operations director, Janet Tecklenborg, said the pilot project saved Edmonton $4 million last year. Now, the city is focusing on studying the brine's impact on infrastructure, greenery, and road safety.

    "We're hoping to see, as they have in other jurisdictions, a reduction in the number of collisions and an improvement in safety by reaching bare pavement," Tecklenborg said.

    In addition to the anti-icing project, she said Edmonton has begun using GPS technology on its heavy equipment to better monitor where melting and abrasive products are spread. The goal is to reduce the amount of material by up to 30 per cent.

    Eventually, she'd like to see Edmonton follow the lead of other jurisdictions that monitor pavement temperature, humidity and local weather factors so crews can lay down the right material at the right time.

    Tecklenborg and Sabourin say changes in winter temperatures are both helping and hindering snow removal efforts.

    For example, melting products that are ineffective in a deep freeze work when the temperature is warmer. But an increasing number of freezing rain events and water main breaks has created new challenges, prompting Montreal to buy eight of what the mayor calls "ice-crusher" machines.

    As winter cycling grows in popularity, Montreal is also experimenting with brushes and liquid salt in order to better remove ice from its network of all-weather bike paths.

    But despite the push for better technologies, Sabourin says the city still has no intention of resurrecting the previous administration's dream of heated sidewalks along a downtown stretch of Ste-Catherine Street, which was scrapped last year amid cost concerns.

    "Not for now, no," Sabourin said when asked about the plan. Shovelling, it appears, will never be totally eliminated.



  • 09 Nov 2018 6:56 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/local-company-looks-to-africa-for-road-salt-amid-shortage

    As Milwaukee prepares for the first snowfall of the season Friday, North American salt remains in short supply due to a 12-week strike at the Goderich Mine in Canada that occurred over the summer. 

    On Thursday, Adam Schlicht, the Port Director at the Port of Milwaukee, said he's confident the area will have all the salt it needs for winter - even if supply is still a bit low. 

    "The salt piles at Jones Island might appear a little low to date," Schlicht said. 

    "But at least 10 more vessels carrying salt will come to the port between today and approximately February 15," he added. 

    He said each of those vessels will be carrying at least 20,000 tons of salt. 

    Additionally, the Port of Milwaukee has already seen about 700,000 tons of salt brought in by vessels so far. 

    One of those was a vessel containing 32,000 tons of salt from Morocco. 

    The MCR Group, a local snow removal company, arranged to buy the salt, according to its President Jesse Hoffmann. 

    Hoffmann said the MCR Group will use the salt at the properties it will plow this winter - like the Bayshore Town Center. 

    But most of it will be sold to other, local snow removal companies who rely on the MCR Group to buy salt. 

    Hoffmann said the shortage of North American salt made it sensible to purchase the Moroccan salt, even if it was pricier. 

    His company placed the order at the end of July. 

    "I don't have the option to go back to (our buyers) and says, 'salt prices are now three times more expensive than what they were,' or, 'I can't get product for you.' That would put me out of business," Hoffmann said. 


  • 09 Nov 2018 6:40 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/11/07/heres-why-compass-minerals-fell-278-in-october.aspx

    What happened

    Shares of Compass Minerals (NYSE:CMP) fell nearly 28% last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. While the stock has underperformed in the last five years due to the business' inability to grow income levels, a one-month drop of that magnitude is very unusual. Turns out there's a solid argument for investor pessimism.

    When Compass Minerals reported preliminary third-quarter 2018 earnings in October, the mixed results were accompanied by the announcement that lingering production issues at its salt mine in Ontario, Canada threatened to weigh on earnings for the quarter. Worse still, while a plan is in place to address production shortfalls, there's no guarantee that the mine can ramp up output of road salt in time for winter.

    So what

    The Goderich salt mine in Ontario has been plagued by operational setbacks for over one year. A ceiling collapse in late 2017 reduced production volumes and increased operating costs. When combined with warmer-than-average winters in North America in recent years and weakness in global agricultural markets that weighed on the company's fertilizer business, production issues have forced Compass Minerals to fight for every dollar of operating income it earns.

    That explains why investors just haven't found much to get excited about when it comes to the stock -- even with an impressive dividend yield of 5.5%. News of continued production issues entering the final months of 2018 only made investors more confident in their pessimistic stance, especially since it puts more distance between Compass Minerals and its ambitious plans to greatly improve operating margins by 2020.

    Now what

    On paper, Compass Minerals should be able to deliver consistently strong results anchored by its road-salt operations and small, but growing, specialty fertilizer business. But in reality, the company has run up against production issues, unusually warm winters, and challenging market conditions in agricultural markets.

    Time is running out for the business to deliver on its 2020 goals, and the fact that it keeps sliding in the wrong direction can't be overlooked by investors. However, a 5.5% dividend yield and a strong showing in the next two or three quarters could finally change the stock's trajectory.



  • 08 Nov 2018 3:30 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-snow-dumps-surpass-limits-1.4895554

    Quebec City needs to invest $2.5 million if it wants to bring its snow dumps up to code, according to a report commissioned by the city.

    Seven of the city's ten sites need to be refurbished to meet standards set by the Ministry of Environment, as well as the city's own regulations.

    The worst culprit is the Jonquière site, located at the corner of Wilfrid-Hamel Boulevard and Saint-Sacrement Avenue, only 200 metres away from the St-Charles River.

    The dump is filled with pieces of metal that fell from rusty cars, plastics and other garbage picked up by snow plows.

    The crumbling infrastructure at the Jonquière site means sand, gravel and garbage seep into the river according to Stantec, the engineering firm who wrote the report/

    While the ministry and the city's regulations limit the number of particles to 30 milligrams per litre (mg/l), the Jonquière site showed an average of 81 mg/l from 2012 to 2016, at times climbing to 580 mg/l.

    The levels at the other sites aren't as high, but Stantec estimates it will cost $2.5 million to refurbish the entire infrastructure, $1.2 million solely for the Jonquière snow dump.

    Long-standing problem

    Opposition councillor Jean Rousseau said the obsolete infrastructures were highlighted in the auditor-general's report in 2012, who traced back some of the issues to 2005.

    "It's more of the same. We just keep on doing what we've been doing all along," said Rousseau. 

    A plan was put in place following the auditor-general's report, but was suspended in 2015.

    Rousseau said it's ironic that the city has since invested time and money to promote the importance of preserving the region's water sources, like the St-Charles River.

    "It's not a sexy topic when you talk about snow depots."

    Not enough space

    The 307-page report, obtained by Radio-Canada through an access-to-information request, also warned the city could run out of space if there's a repeat of the record-breaking winter of 2008.

    A total of 558 centimetres of snow fell over the city that year, more than double the average from 2012 to 2017.

    In all, 12.9 million metric cubes were packed into the sites in 2008. But with the closure of one of its sites in 2014, the city wouldn't have enough space to pull that off now, according to Stantec.

    City councillor Jérémie Ernould, who is in charge of snow removal and road works for the executive committee, said the city could work around the problem by increasing the capacity of its sites.

    "We wouldn't have any difficulty in storing the snow, we would just be working differently," he said.

    'Nothing toxic'

    The city suspended the work it had started in 2015 because it wanted a more accurate idea of the state of its snow dumps, Ernould said

    "Most of the depots meet environmental standards and require minor work," said Ernould. The work will begin next year.

    At the Jonquière site, Ernould said the particles released into the river could have long-term consequences. But he said there are no toxic chemicals being released.


  • 08 Nov 2018 3:20 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/weather/topstories/excessive-november-snowfall-about-to-wallop-quebec/ar-BBPtXbZ?ocid=spartanntp

    Quebec by no means is a stranger to November snowfall, but what's about to happen is "excessive" even by the province's high and hearty standards. A merging of two systems will bring heavy snow and strong winds to parts of the province this weekend with additional and several rounds of snow to follow. More on the hefty totals and the widespread long range threat, below.

    WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS:

    • Major low pressure system brings widespread snow over Quebec starting Friday
    • Strong winds set to blast eastern regions through the weekend with dangerous travel expected in blowing snow
    • Active storm track in the long range forecast, eyes on another significant system next week

    Watch below: Timing the rain and snow

    LOCKED IN A DAUNTING PATTERN

    "An active storm track is pairing perfectly with some air from Siberia, which will bring temperatures well below seasonal for November," says Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton. "When you look at the entire province, there's not a single region in Quebec that will be spared from these early season November snow's over the next seven to ten days."

    WEEKEND SNOW ON THE DOORSTEP

    Over this upcoming weekend, two systems will merge together bringing strong winds and heavy snow to parts of Quebec. This is an Alberta clipper that "joins forces" with a major low pressure system stateside that deepens and strengthens as it tracks northward.

    The storm moves in from the southwest on Friday, gradually spreading eastward through Friday night, prompting Environment Canada to issue a special weather statement for the region, warning drivers to consider "modifying non-essential travel plans."

    For areas north of the St. Lawrence, between 10-15 cm of snow is expected with greater amounts up to 25 cm possible over the higher grounds of central and eastern Quebec. This system will be a messy one for many areas, including the city of Montreal, which will see a messy mix of precipitation as the warm front lifts north of the area.

    a close up of a map © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc.

    "Eastern Quebec will also be affected by strong winds gusting between 70-90 km/h on Saturday and Sunday," says EC.

    This could mean power outages and treacherous road conditions coming to the area with blowing and drifting snow through the weekend.

    a close up of a map © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc.

    As the storm departs late Saturday night, another system is set to track up the U.S. eastern seaboard early to mid next week, potentially bringing more heavy snow on the northwestern side of the system.


  • 02 Nov 2018 7:03 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/winter-weather-snow-removal-quebec-montreal-1.4887454

    According to the city, 238 centimetres of snow fell on the island last winter. The average is 190 centimetres. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada) 

    Montreal officials say the city is fully prepared for winter's wrath — adding an ice breaker to its fleet of snow removal trucks while increasing its supply of salt to combat icy roads and sidewalks.

    At a news conference Thursday, Coun. Jean-François Parenteau said improved technology, from mobile apps to drones, will also help improve the city's snow removal services.

    Drones will be deployed over snow dumps to ensure optimal usage of the space. Last winter, the former Blue Bonnets racetrack was turned into a temporary snow-dumping site because the city's three dump sites were too full. 

    Parenteau said the Info-Neige mobile app will be improved this year.

    For starters, the app, which had nearly 273,000 users last winter, will offer more free parking options during snow removal operations.​

    Parenteau, who is the executive committee member responsible for citizen services, said the app will also be linked to the city's resident services app. That app, he said, will be improved as well.

    These improved apps will allow Montrealers to flag issues such as poorly cleared sidewalks, erroneous signs and slippery roads in front of schools, hospitals and bus stops, he said.

    In a statement, Parenteau described the apps as a "powerful tool for us to improve our operations in the field. The city's digital shift opens the door to a host of new opportunities to make everyday life easier."

    Coun. Jean-François Parenteau says the city's Info-Neige app, which had nearly 273,000 users last year, will be improved.

    Citizen participation, he said, is essential to delivering effective services. That participation includes reporting problems through the apps while adhering to parking regulations and driving safely.

    According to the city, last winter was exceptional, with two more snow removal operations than usual to clear the 238 centimetres of snow that fell on an island that averages 190.

    Last winter, the Plante administration came under sharp criticism from residents for the way it handled snow removal operations. 

    Quebec crews also equipped and ready

    Quebec's Transportation Department has also been gearing up for the Montreal region's 2018-19 winter.

    Snow removal trucks are ready to hit the road, salt is in storage and staff are on alert, according to a Thursday announcement.

    The aim, the ministry explains, is to be ready to complete the required operations in a "timely manner" from when the first snow accumulates — to enable efficient and safe travel on the roads that are managed by the province.

    As the ministry is prepared for winter, it is also recommending that drivers get ready as well. Motorists are encouraged to check Quebec 511 for road condition updates before heading out.

    The ministry recommends motorists prepare their car for winter, equipping it with winter windshield wipers, snow brooms, extra clothing, first aid kits, emergency food rations and water.

    Those emergency rations and extra clothing may come in handy if drivers again become trapped on Highway 13 as happened in 2017.

    • Maintaining more than 3,100 kilometres of roads.

    • Spending $36.5 million for all winter maintenance operations.

    • Assigning nearly 210 snow removal trucks to operations.

    • Spreading enough salt to cover nine and a half football fields to a depth of one metre.

    • Spreading enough abrasive to cover two and a half football fields to a depth of one metre.



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