UK Weather: Grit Shortage Could Cause Transportation Chaos
In the face of the big freeze weather conditions in the UK, transportation concerns are continuing to arise as there may be a serious grit shortage. Due to the unprecedented heavy snowfalls and ice, many more tonnes of grit have been used on motorways across the UK to try and cope with the dangers that arise from this kind of weather. Transportation in the UK has been a great concern since December 2009 when the sub zero temperatures began and it will continue to be of concern now that the country may be facing a serious grit shortage. Without enough supply to meet the demand, the UK could end up facing transportation chaos.
Over 60,000 tonnes of salt are being used up every day on various highways and roads throughout the country and still there is an increasing demand for more. These quantities are double what is usually needed to cope with winter weather in the UK. Salt production generates around 15,000 tonnes of salt on a daily basis, meaning that the current rate of production cannot keep up with the amount of demand.
Around half of the UK's grit is mined by the Salt Union in Cheshire. At full capacity it can produce 30,000 tonnes a week – but its overground stockpiles will be gone by tomorrow or Tuesday. As a result, the company will have to mine salt underground and distribute it straight away, dramatically limiting the output. The situation is described as "very serious".
The stockpile of around 320,000 tonnes will quickly run out and the country will have to cope with a drastic grit shortage. Supplies are expected to last up until tomorrow, but there is already a cause for concern with sub zero temperatures forecast to continue for the next nine days at least.
The Westminster area of London is a specific concern at the moment, and Central London in general is the main priority in terms of making sure all major transport routes and main roads are covered in grit. More salt has been ordered in from the US and Spain but will not arrive for at least another 12 days. With one of the country's main salt mines in Yorkshire already working to capacity, it remains to be seen whether the UK will be able to cope with the snow and ice in the coming days.