Massive Shipment of Road Salt Arrives in Chelsea, Mass. - NECN

Massive Shipment of Road Salt Arrives in Chelsea, Mass.



    Massive shipment of road salt arrives in Weston, Mass.

    Mexico called on for salt in wake of rough winter (Published Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014)

    (NECN: Josh Brogadir, Chelsea, Mass.) - From Mexico to a cargo ship through the Panama Canal and eventually to this MassDOT shed in Weston, Mass., the salt has traveled thousands of miles.

    Departments of Public Works around New England are counting on it to fight back winter.

    "That clam shell bucket carries about 8 to 10 tons from the hold on the ship, drops it onto the ground,” said Eastern Salt Company dispatcher Kenny Whitehead.

    Salt intake - port of entry.

    The kind your arteries can't handle but your highways need.

    “This is stuff I wouldn't put on my kitchen table,” Whitehead said.

    The drop point for much of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire is here in Chelsea at Eastern Salt.

    This may look like a lot of salt and it is, about 10 million pounds.

    But it's all that's left from a massive shipment of 74 million pounds that arrived only a couple of days ago from Cedros Island, Mexico.

    “The phones are ringing off the wall and everybody wants their salt. We are trying to do the best we can to get them their salt,” he said.

    Just last week the shortage of salt rose to an emergency level in Connecticut.

    “We're not planning for 2 weeks. We're planning for 60 days of weather conditions that we may have to respond to,” Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said on Friday.

    New England's biggest city isn't having that level of need, but is dealing with its own shortage.

    “Our salt levels aren't where they need to be right now, but we have plenty of salt for the next storm. I believe there is a ship coming in either Tuesday or Wednesday, so we'll be back to where we need to be,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

    Except that ship will likely be delayed Whitehead says.

    He knows storms out at sea make it difficult to get that salt to shore with customers waiting.

    The down side is all the work.

    The plus side for the salt guys is that in a rough winter, white means green.

    “These storms are great for us. We just went through so much this year. And it's just amazing this winter how it's been, salt storm after salt storm. Even the 1, 2 inch storms, they use a lot of salt,” Whitehead said.

    The going rate is $85 a ton from Eastern Salt.

    But you can't even buy it if you're not a city or town or state.

    There's not enough to go around for private contractors.