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Local municipalities seek refund for bad road salt

By Liz Kilmer, Reporter, LKilmer@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 20 2014 03:52:23 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 21 2014 05:18:50 AM CST

Local road crews claim they've received bad bundles of snow mix this season, and they want their money back.

LOWER ALSACE TWP., Pa. -

Local road crews claim they've received bad bundles of snow mix this season, and they want their money back.

"I've never see [anything] like it," said Rich Bitting, road foreman in Lower Alsace Twp., Berks Co.

Bitting told 69 News that this winter's batch, purchased from the Cargill Deicing Technology plant in Northampton County, is problematic - partially wet, partially clumpy, and littered with debris.

"It's not penetrating on the ice like it should," said Bitting.

Bitting said the salt mix freezes together into hard chunks, blocking salt sprayers and making it difficult to spread the solution on roads.

In a phone interview, Cargill spokesman Mark Klein apologized for the problem, attributing it to the weather.

"It could have just been the unique weather patterns," said Klein. "That's not an excuse for what's happened and we'll work with the local officials on how to fix this. If our customers aren't happy, then we're not satisfied either."

According to Bitting, many Berks municipalities ordered their salt mix through Cargill this winter, piggybacking on a contract between the company and the city of Reading.

"I know a lot of the townships are having the same problems," said Bitting.

Ralph Johnson, Reading's public works director, told 69 News that Cargill has been cooperating with municipal heads in order to determine a resolution. He said part of the salt mix is being tested in a lab to help make that determination.

Bitting, however, hopes his township will be reimbursed. He said the problematic salt has cost close to $14,000, in addition to the cost of extra labor needed to manage the mix. For budgetary purposes, he said the remaining mix can't be wasted.

"We're putting double application down, where a single application should work fine. We're going double our money, double the quantity," said Bitting. "We're trying to keep the roads safe."