Norwegians are arguing over whether road crews are using too much salt when they try to make streets and highways safer during winter. With weather shifting quickly between snow, sleet and rain that turn to ice when temperatures fall, there’s been record use of salt, but that’s not good for the environment.
It’s not good for cars or bicycles either, because of the rust salt can cause, but it can help avoid accidents on slippery streets and sidewalks. More than 40,000 tons of salt have been strewn over asphalt in Oslo alone this winter, in an effort to make them ice-free.
That’s four-times the amount used 10 years ago, reports state broadcaster NRK, mostly blamed on how fast the weather and temperatures change. Salt can save lives, argue officials at the state highway department, but threaten those of plants, fish and birds when the salt spreads, especially into creeks, lakes and fjords.
“We’re working towards salting smarter and more effectively to reduce its use,” Asbjørn Stensrud of Statens vegvesen told state broadcaster NRK over the weekend. “The main rule now is to plow streets first, and then use salt to keep streets ice-free. We can’t only plow any longer.”