Mag chloride out for S’mass Village |

Mag chloride out for S’mass Village

Sarah S. Chung

The days of wondering about the effects of magnesium chlorideare over for Snowmass Village. A new de-icer that officials say has received better scrutinyfrom researchers will now melt snow on the town’s streets duringinclement weather.When – or if – the next snowstorm hits the valley, calcium magnesiumacetate (CMA) will replace magnesium chloride, the Town Councilvoted Monday.”I’m extremely happy with the move away from using magnesium chloride,”said Councilman Jack Hatfield. “I hate that gooey crap.”Under study since the 1970s, CMA has been found to be “no morecorrosive than tap water,” according to the Federal Highway Administration.Laboratory and field research has found that CMA does not harmvegetation or nearby streams, is nontoxic in human handling tests,and does not significantly corrode steel, aluminum, or concrete,according to CMA’s manufacturer, Cryotech.”It’s more environmentally and concrete friendly,” said Hunt Walker,public works director for the town. “We researched this duringthe winter and our concrete guy loves it.”However, there are drawbacks to CMA when compared to magnesiumchloride. It is more expensive and not as effective at meltingsnow. According to Walker, CMA costs about seven times as muchand goes into effect at a higher temperature (above 20 degrees)than magnesium chloride, which starts to melt snow and ice ata few degrees below 20.But CMA’s biggest advantage over magnesium chloride, accordingto the Town Council, is what’s not there – namely, the toxic heavymetals found in some samples of magnesium chloride and the knowncorrosive effects of chloride.”We didn’t go into [using magnesium chloride] blindly, but therehave always been concerns,” Walker said. Despite the good news, Mayor T. Michael Manchester wanted assurancethat “two years from now we won’t be wondering about the effectsthis stuff.”Walker responded that “so far more money has been spent on studyingthis than putting it on the roads.”CMA is a solid compound that can be mixed with sand or salt orused alone. It can also be liquefied. It is currently used by12 state transportation departments and by the cities of Atlanta,Chicago, Seattle, and Vail.Snowmass Village started using magnesium chloride three yearsago. This winter, the council directed staff to curtail the useof the controversial de-icer to an absolute minimum. So far, about5,000 gallons of magnesium chloride has been sprayed, as opposedto 30,000 gallons last year.

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