SALTED AWAY Vital road grit supplies to be protected from rain

STEPS are being taken to ensure not one drop of Ballymoney’s massive supplies of road salt - which were so vital to keeping local highways safe during last winter’s big freeze - will be lost, writes Nevin Farrell.

Up until now the salt supplies were kept in a massive open-air pile at Market Street but Roads Service have been given the go-ahead by planners for the salt to be stored in an an indoor depot on the site.

Outdoor piles can lose salt because of rainfall and rock salt exposed to moisture is less effective.

With the cost of salt expensive and the gritting of roads costing thousands of pounds each night the lorries are out across Ballymoney and Moyle, it is important to keep costs down.

The prolonged cold spell last winter also meant it was important that every gramme of salt was protected as supplies were put under increasing pressure.

A Department of Regional Development spokesperson told the Times: “Roads Service has submitted a planning application for the erection of, what is essentially a covered salt barn, at the rear of the existing Roads Service Depot on Market Street, Ballymoney.

“This application is still in progress. The final cost has still not been determined but Roads Service propose to use a previously used structure, thereby keeping costs down.”

Planners have given the green light for a ‘concrete portal frame unit to store rock salt’.

Before the start of last winter, Roads Service brought in a massive 2,500 tonnes of grit which was stored in a man-made mountain towering over cars in the adjacent carpark at Market Street.

The previous year 5,000 tonnes were used on roads in Ballymoney and Moyle.

A salt industry website said: ‘Storage piles, whether large or small, should never be left exposed to rain or snow. A permanent under-roof storage facility is best for protecting salt. If this is not possible, then outside piles should be built on impermeable bituminous pads and covered with one of the many types of temporary waterproof materials, such as tarpaulins. These two rules – under cover and on a pad – will also prevent environmental problems from salt-laden runoff.’

Another website said storage in a roofed enclosure will:

* Prevent formation of lumpy salt that is difficult to handle with loaders and to move through spreaders

* Eliminate the possibility of contaminating streams and wells with salt runoff.

* Eliminate salt loss through dissolving and runoff.