December 24, 2008

Environmentalists oppose winter road sand

The sand used in Seattle to protect motorists from icy streets is more dangerous to aquatic life than typical road salt, environmentalists say.

With more than 6,000 tons of sand already dispersed on Seattle streets since last Thursday, environmentalists claim the alternative winter road solution can clog area waterways and damage its precarious food chain, The Seattle Times said Wednesday.

In general, what my colleagues have found, and I have found, is that sand actually has a greater impact, at least on stream systems, University of Dayton professor Eric Benbow said. Sand's the problem, as much as people don't want to recognize it.

Seattle stopped using road salt in the late 1990s due to concerns regarding its environmental impact and has embraced a road safety concept involving packed snow coated with sand and de-icer, the Times said.

Richard Sheridan of the Seattle Department of Transportation said despite the environmentalists' claims, sand remains a more environmentally-friendly alternative to salt.