OTTAWA, Ont. — The salt used to clear Canada’s oft-snow and ice covered highways and byways is again on its way to earning a very dubious distinction as an environmentally toxic substance.
David Anderson, the Minister of the Environment, is expected to make the recommendation in today’s Canada Gazette to list road salts under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).
“We are absolutely not considering a ban on road salt. We are looking at better management to reduce their environmental impact,” says a spokesperson for the minister.
Canadians use some five million tonnes of salt annually to melt away the roadblocks associated with winter north of the 49th parallel. But a five-year scientific review completed last summer found the salt from highways and storage compounds can poison plants and small animals and change the ecology of streams and ponds.
Scientists observed flocks of birds became sick from eating too much salt on highways and died when they were unable to fly away from oncoming traffic. In several cases, trees and other plants died along heavily salted highways and near salt storage compounds.
If salt does make the list, a consultation process will ensue and last up to three-and-a-half years, all in an effort to determine the best way of regulating road salt.
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