Terminals announce pause in salt shipments

UNDER WRAPS- Piles of road salt for winter driving applications are tarped in this November 29, 2017 ariel photo of Picton Terminals. (Picton Terminals photo)


Lake freighters carrying loads of sodium chloride for winter driving applications in 2020-21 into Picton Bay will be an non-existent sight this summer and fall as Picton Terminals announced last week it will not accept shipments of road salt in 2020, and, as it relates to salt at Picton Terminals, “the future is unknown.”

The port operation, initially built by Bethlehem Steel in the 1950’s in order to transship Iron Ore mined from the Marmoraton Mine in Marmora, ON and delivered to elevators on Picton Bay by rail car was mostly dormant after that process ceased in 1978 but small number of ships have offloaded road salt at the site since 1985.

The salt was then trucked to regional municipalities and large scale winter maintenance companies in the region. Sandy Berg, spokesperson for Picton Terminals, said this summer will be the first time since 1985 that ships carrying road salt won’t be coming into Picton Bay.

“Picton Terminals recognizes the inevitable added financial burden to regional road salt users, who must now travel farther to pick up road salt for their communities,” Berg said. “Local community road maintenance agencies who use salt in maintaining safe roads will increase truck miles driven on regional roadways, increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions and add to already congested Ontario highways as they pick up road salt next winter. Picton Terminals regrets the financial and logistical costs to salt users as a result of the decision to not accept road salt in 2020.”

As part of the operation, Picton Terminals accepted road salt from Windsor Salt and the trucking from the site to smaller storage domes throughout easter Ontario generally commenced in fall.

Storm water runoff from the salt piles across neighbouring proprieties and into Picton Bay has been investigated by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for a number of years. In consultation with the MOECP as a result of Director’s Orders arising from elevated salt readings in ground water at the site and adjacent properties, Picton Terminals has been in the process of developing dry covered storage in the limestone cliff face .

The port operation had been told by the MOECP that acceptance of salt shipments in 2020 could not commence unless the facility was completed by April 1.

Berg told the Gazette via email Wednesday the information leading to the decision of a salt-free 2020 Picton Terminals is confidential but did state the business is constantly analyzing the cost effectiveness of all products that they transship. “At this time we are actively proceeding with the construction of the dry storage bin and expect to transship salt in 2021 and beyond,” Berg stated.

As to the MOECP Director’s Order deadline issued in June, 2019 to have the dry storage in place prior to April 1, Berg said there are many factors which resulted in our decision for a salt-free2020.

“The overarching point is that we continue to move forward with the construction of our MECP Environmental Compliance Approval (Stormwater management plan) which awaits final MECP approval.

Berg added Picton Terminals is methodically moving forward with a multi-year, multi-phased plan to redevelop the former 1954 Bethlehem Steel port and return marine shipping to eastern Ontario.