It occurs to me that most County Road Commissions and their Townships are purchasing Dust Control on good faith. In my experience at MDOT, no materials, services or parts were purchased without a written specification in place at the time the contractors were bidding. I see the same for Counties and Townships, with the exception of Dust Control. In reviewing recent bids, the majority have no specific requirements to ensure that the agency is getting what they’re paying for.
When a Road Commission purchases grader blades, asphalt, gravel and emulsions, specific quantities, types, gradations, material content are all spelled out. When it comes to Dust Control, honesty is the best policy. No analytical follow up, most cases, are required for loads delivered or placed.
I am still confused as to how some mineral well brine suppliers come up with their “26%” solution number. If you look at their test results, the hygroscopic material, Calcium Chloride is as low as 17%, never higher than 21.5%. Magnesium Chloride at 3% – 4%, and Sodium Chloride @ 4% – 6%. So when you do the math, there can be anywhere from total content of 24% – 31%. Each load can vary by 3% to 7%. An even bigger issue is what is in the product you are paying for? Calcium Chloride is the work horse; it is what keeps the fines in place, dust down and maintenance cost low. Any Mineral or Oil Field sales person that shows up at your door will compare their product to LIQUIDOW* 38% Calcium Chloride, the best product on the market, on this point we all agree. Mag Chloride at less than 20% is no more effective then water and – this is a big and – Sodium Chloride (salt) actually adds to the dust problem. In its natural state, salt is a solid, it returns to a solid as it becomes dry. Just think of the highway after the big snow storm, remember the dust? That is salt on the road that wasn’t diluted; it then is blown around by traffic, in to the ditches and waterways, into homes. What impact does this have on residents with breathing problems? What impact will this create in the future for our lakes, streams and drinking water? At the recommended application rates, mineral well brines put more than one-ton of salt in the environment for every mile of road, times that by the number of applications per year, more salt goes into the air, lakes and streams, than during the winter on paved roads. Oil Field Brines have been tested at over three times the Sodium content. The DNRE is reviewing current permits of this type of brine and looks to be categorizing it with Oil Field Brine for these very reasons, trying to reduce the environmental impact.
Typical Mineral Well Product Storage
The next major consideration; contractors will honestly tell you they store their product in large lagoon type ponds. Some of these are up to 1.5 acres and hold over five million gallons of product. As I look out my window, I am watching the rain come down; we are in an incredibly wet spring, over 3 inches of rain in 3 days. This got me thinking, how much water would that add to one of these storage lagoons? Some quick research shows that each inch of rain over one acre equals over 27,000 gallons of water, times 1.5 acres = 40.500 gallons. Then multiply that by 3 inches of rain equals 122,000 gallons of water added to one of these storage lagoons. So, this begs the question. How diluted will the customers material be? There have been claims that you can evaporate the water. If it is truly a hygroscopic material as claimed, it draws moisture, it can’t work both ways! Unless you’re inspecting loads or requiring samples from each load for random analytical testing, chances are you’re going to have dust problems, you will lose fines in the aggregate, the road will deteriorate at an accelerated rate and you’re already tight budgets will be spread even further.
When purchasing LIQUIDOW* Calcium Chloride for snow & ice or dust control, quality control measures are in place ensuring that every load of product delivered is what you specified. We test it, we sample it and we ask that you sample and test as well. I would go as far as to suggest that when bidding Dust Control, require that 26%, 28% or 38% be within +/- 1% of the percent of the percentage bid. That it be of the “primary constituent”. In other words, if you are paying for Calcium Chloride for Dust Control, you should be measuring for Calcium Chloride. Total Chlorides don’t get the job done. Sodium actually works against what you’re trying to accomplish. We would be more than happy to help you design a specification that will protect your interest and save you money in the long run. Please contact us with your snow and ice, or dust control questions.