News release

Nova Scotia Ahead of Road Salt Announcement

TRANSPORTATION/PUBLIC WORKS--Nova Scotia Ahead of Road Salt Announcement

Nova Scotia has taken several steps to manage its use of road salt, in advance of today's announcement by Environment Canada.

The federal government is recommending that road salt be added to its list of substances that are harmful to the environment in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It is not, however, considered harmful to people and is not being banned anywhere in Canada.

"I'm proud to say we got an early jump on this issue," said Ron Russell, Minister of Transportation and Public Works. "Our maritime environment demands that we apply road salt to protect the travelling public. But we'll continue to play our part in managing its use to protect the environment."

Prior to today's announcement, the Department of Transportation and Public Works had already taken action on four measures that should help reduce salt use:

  • expanding its use of pre-wetting, or adding brine to the salt to make it stick better to road surfaces. Dry salt has a tendency to bounce off the road;
  • increasing from six to 13 the number of highway sensors that help detect oncoming bad weather. This helps staff determine the best time to distribute salt;
  • constructing modern storage facilities for salt domes or sheds, as funding allows, to prevent leaks into the environment; and
  • implementing new winter maintenance standards that require crews to provide consistent, measurable ice and snow removal service to all areas of Nova Scotia.

These salt-management programs will be evaluated and expanded where beneficial.

"Until someone comes up with a better solution, road authorities will have to use salt," added Mr. Russell. "But we will work with experts in this field over the next several years to create an effective strategy that works here in Nova Scotia."

Mr. Russell added that the province looks forward to working with other road authorities to evaluate best practices and to reach workable, cost-effective solutions. The province will continue to participate in a salt management working group established by the Transportation Association of Canada.

A copy of the association's publication "Road Salt and Snow and Ice Control" can be viewed online at .

The Department of Transportation and Public Works spends about $31 million a year to control snow and ice on the province's highways. That includes money for salt and sand, fuel, equipment and labour. It applies about 260,000 tonnes of salt each winter.

An additional 500 staff are hired each winter, bringing the total workforce of the Highway Operations division to 1,400. The department uses about 400 plows for winter maintenance, including graders, trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles.


Nova Scotia has taken several steps to manage the use of road salt in the winter.

Transportation Minister Ron Russell says the province was expecting the federal government to recommend that road salt be listed as harmful to the environment.

Mr. Russell says public safety is the first priority, which means salt will continue to be used for snow and ice control. The department has already begun to reduce salt use.



Richard Perry
Transportation and Public Works 902-424-8978 Cell: 902-497-1592 E-mail:
jrh            November 30, 2001        12:31 P.M.