Scott: There has been no shortage of wintry weather this season, which also means there has been no shortage of problems that go along with it. But for one industry, all this snow hasn’t been all bad news…just a lot of work. Maggie Rulli has more.
Maggie: Many states have been hit with record-breaking snow this winter, making much of the nation’s roads a dangerous and frozen mess. To battle this constant ice, many towns have nearly used up their salt reserves and were on track to apply more than 17 million tons of salt to roads across the country. But where exactly does all this salt come from? Well, we are going to have to dig deep, 1,800 feet below street level and into salt mines just like this one right underneath Lake Erie just outside Cleveland, Ohio.
This is the Cargill corporation’s salt mine. They have seen a demand for road salt spike in the twelve states and two Canadian provinces that they supply. This year, Cargill is producing 15,000 – 16,000 tons of salt a day, blasting, drilling, loading, hauling, dumping and processing, all to keep their salt spreaders filled.
Mine Manager Steve Horne has been in the business for 25 years. And he says he has never seen demand like this.
Steve Horn: We haven’t been hand-to-mouth quite yet but, you know, we have seen our inventories deplenish rapidly.
Maggie: Keeping up with that demand is important because all that salt ends up saving lives. Weather-related car crashes account for 23% of car accidents. But according to a recent study, salting roads reduces car accidents by 88%, injuries by 85% and the cost of accidents by 85% as well.
To keep up with demand and to keep our roads safe, salt miners have been working overtime. Here in Ohio, they are pulling three shifts a day, seven days a week. But you won’t see them complaining about the extra work…
David Diaz: This has been a great winter. You can’t top this one.
Maggie: …Because the demand for all this extra salt for the roads means extra money for their wallets.
Miner: It’s a good thing. You know, we always say let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Maggie: So, in exchange for working hard to keep our roads safe, snow fighters are getting an extra bonus: some cold, hard cash.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.