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Suffolk County May Use Beet Brine To Treat Roadways In Winter

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Suffolk County may begin using beet brine to treat roadways in the winter in an effort to cut back on the use of rock salt.

Legislator Kara Hahn has asked for a study into the use of beet brine.

“Part of this study is to determine what the cost would be to the county, would it be cheaper?” Hahn said. “We’re told that they’d be buying as much as and maybe possibly more than a third less salt if they used beet brine. The question would be how much is the beet brine? Is it less expensive than salt?”

The study would also determine if beet brine would be better for the environment and vehicles.

Hahn said unlike salt it is effective in temperatures 25 degrees below zero.

“It is applied ahead of time and it prevents the roadway from ever icing at all,” Hahn told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “It also can be mixed with the salt and help it to stick. It is an additive that helps the salt stick to the road and helps it so that it doesn’t bounce around and move off the road.”

Dave Schiavoni, owner of East End Organics, said his phone has been ringing off the hook with towns looking to buy his company’s beet juice brine and ice melt.

“My phone never stops,” Schiavoni told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I’ve been telling them for three years, they laughed at me, now they’re calling me.”

Schiavoni thinks of himself as a mad scientist with a secret potion and a product that could save towns hundreds of dollars.

“I can come to their yard, coat their salt, and I can cut their salt use in half,” Schiavoni said. “Right now a ton of salt is $200. They’re using a half a ton per mile. Beet juice, you need about 40 gallons, it’s 80 cents a gallon.”

Schiavoni said schools, hospitals and firehouses in Suffolk County use his beet juice ice melt.

“Would you rather have white nasty stuff eating your car away or a nice product protecting the environment?” he asked.

The towns of Riverhead and Shelter Island and the New York State Thruway have already used or tested beet brine.

In addition to beet brine, Hahn said she is also open to looking into using cheese, potatoes and molasses to treat roadways.

Creative solutions to snow removal have not been limited to the New York area, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

In Alaska, snow is removed with heavy duty blowers that shoot directly onto dump trucks and in New Zealand train cars have been used to clear snow with dramatic and effective results.

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