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Mayoral candidate targets Greater Sudbury’s dust control methods

Mayoral candidate Miranda Rocca-Circelli wants the city to use more environmentally friendly methods to suppress dust on gravel roads and construction sites
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Mayoral candidate Miranda Rocca-Circelli is seen outside of Tom Davies Square.

This year’s municipal election has gotten a bit salty, with mayoral candidate Miranda Rocca-Circelli pledging to do something about surface treatments (road salt) for dust control.

“Each year the City of Greater Sudbury tenders a contract for the surface treatment of roads, part of which includes secondary roads, and construction sites to suppress dust,” she said in her latest media release.

“As a result, tens of thousands of litres of corrosive chemicals are dumped on our roads. These chemicals; calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are toxic and water soluble, so when it rains, they wash off the roads and ultimately end up in our lakes.”

Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are types of road salt, which are highly soluble in water and make their way downstream to city lakes.

Sudbury.com sent a request to the city’s communications department for a phone interview in response to Rocca-Circelli’s media release and received a written statement as a response.

Calcium chloride is commonly used by municipalities for dust suppression on gravel roads, they wrote, noting there are more than 250 km of gravel roads within the municipality that receive this treatment, which represents approximately 45 per cent of the gravel road network.

“The locations are identified based on specific needs, such as proximity to residences or road geometry,” they clarified. “This process is typically performed once a year in the late spring/early summer and on an as-needed basis.” 

The need for further treatment is based on prolonged dry weather conditions, and they note it is also common to use calcium chloride or water as dust suppression on construction sites, particularly when there are dry weather conditions.

“The city follows industry best practices for dust suppressant application and in all cases where calcium chloride is used, Ontario Provincial Standards for dust suppressants are followed for both the material and application,” they wrote. “This means that dust suppressants have to be applied in a manner that avoids run-off, that the application will not proceed during periods of rain or when the weather forecast indicates a high probability of rainfall.”

The city also clarified there is no program to review alternative products outside of the approved list in the Ontario Provincial Standards.

Rocca-Circelli proposes a ban on the use of what she describes as “environmentally damaging chemicals,” and will suggest the use of environmentally safe alternatives.

“Not only will the environment benefit from these alternatives, but they are also more efficient

and longer lasting, so there will be a potential cost savings as well.”

The mayoral candidate pointed to the Dust/Blokr product from Winnipeg-based Cypher Environmental as a potential alternative. The product uses sugars, starches and minerals for dust control.

“I am motivated to foster change, and these small and effective changes we can make, will

contribute to a sustainable future,” Rocca-Circelli said. “I am motivated by meaningful results that yield a positive impact, this is the leadership I will bring to council as your mayor.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.