Ireland and the UK have been caught out again with insufficient salt supplies for keeping the roads free from ice. Despite being caught out in January of this year and the NRA taking charge of ordering salt for the local authorises since, we are again running out of salt. There is 10,000 tonnes left of salt in Ireland at present and the next delivery by ship is not until Thursday. It is estimated that it will take 10 hours to unload it and drive it to where it is needed. The daily usage of salt has been as high as 5,000 tonnes despite only giving priority to de-icing the national primary routes. Currently to ensure the supplies last, daily usage has been reduced to 2,000 tonnes per day and it is being mixed with grit to reduce the volume consumed. There are a few solutions to this problem, the preordering option, used this year, didn’t really work as the salt was ordered from far afield, North Africa, and the ships take time to arrive from there. Another solution is to preorder from the salt mine in Northern Ireland, presumably this wasn’t tried this year because the salt was more expensive. But it may be worth the extra cost as the salt would be more readily available in times of crisis.
But maybe the best solution would be to have a minimum of 100,000 tonnes in a central warehouse which would be sufficient to deal with three weeks of the highest daily usage. This would be a sufficient quantity to deal with the worse spell of weather and more could be ordered as it is run down. The photograph below shows the ammunition storage bunkers for the Irish Army at the Curragh Camp in Kildare; these are ideally located beside the M7 motorway for easy access to the whole Country.
- Irish Army Storage Depot
Perhaps the Government should consider building a large warehouse adjacent to these bunkers to store the road salt and other priority supplies. One warehouse 8m high by 100m long X 100m wide would be sufficient to house the 100,000 tonnes of salt and keep the rain away from it.
Traditionally road salt storage buildings are usually built in a cone shape. This is because the salt is dropped in using a conveyor belt and takes that shape. It is usually unloaded from the bottom using another conveyor or simply loading shovels. These cone shaped buildings are used widely and can store up 18,000 tonnes of salt depending on the size of building. Therefore six of these larger buildings would be necessary if we were to protect ourselves with a strategic reserve.
- Large salt storage warehouse