Open seasoning: Massive salt piles return to Red Hook

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Red Hook is going back to the salt mines!

A local dock owner is bringing giant piles of rock salt back to the neighborhood for the first time since the last Great Sodium Storm of ’11 — when another terminal left mounds of the mineral uncovered and the granules a-salted local homes and streets. But the businessman swears his operation is totally kosher — he is going to secure the stockpiles down under several layers of canvas.

“No blow,” said John Quadrozzi Jr., the proud owner of the Gowanus Bay Terminal and currently 25,000 tons of salt. “This salt has moisture added, an extra-cost feature so it doesn’t blow during stockpiling. Further, it’s kept covered so that surface drying doesn’t become an issue.”

All that salt — the kind used to de-ice roads after snowstorms — weighs roughly the weight of 3,333 adult African elephants and stands three stories tall, and Quadrozzi is expecting another 45,000 tons by next month.

Quadrozzi previously stored the cubic crystals on his facility at the Ikea end of Columbia Street until 2009, but competing outfit American Stevedoring International, which was then running the Red Hook Container Terminal near Atlantic Basin, lured his contract away that year with the promise of cheaper rates, he said.

But the salt dealers — and nearby homeowners — got what they paid for, when for years the company failed to secure the briney bounty and it billowed onto nearby streets, houses, and cars on the nearby Columbia Street Waterfront District, making locals very salty.

The container port stopped importing the mineral after 2011, and Quadrozzi says he has been working to bring it back to his neck of the Hook ever since.

“I’m very excited,” said Quadrozzi, who had less success trying to bring an historic luxury ocean liner to his berth last year. “We’ve been working on landing a salt deal for almost four years.”

The tycoon claims he currently has around 20 private companies under contract to haul the salt during snowstorms, though he was unable to sell the Department of Sanitation on taking a cut because agency honchos were skeptical the mineral would ever actually materialize on his dock.

Now that he has the salt piled high on his property, Quadrozzi hopes the department will reconsider — though an agency spokeswoman says the city already has around 70,000 tons at other sites around Brooklyn, which should be enough to meet the borough’s de-icing needs this winter.

But the city has been caught short before — a particularly nasty winter in early 2014 depleted local supplies to dangerously low levels and sent rock-salt prices sky-high.

Currently, the city’s only other salt stockpiles are in New Jersey and Staten Island, and it must send trucks to these far-flung lands to replenish its Kings County’s stores.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to correct very faulty elephant math.
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Reasonable discourse

let it snow, let it snow... from Brooklyn/Queens says:
Nice to see that someone's maintaining infrastructure for NYC on our side of the river.

Staten Island and New Jersey are "a bridge too far". Keep it here and keep using our waterfront for purpose.

Can't all be condos you know!
Oct. 3, 2016, 11:41 am
Brian from Cobble Hill says:
You can put lipstick on a pig but that doesn't change what it is.
Oct. 3, 2016, 5:11 pm
Funny City from NYC says:
Please name the funny city spokeswoman as the 70k tons the city has in stock could be wiped out in one major snow or ice storm, and there are several predicted for what is expected to be one of our worst winters of the decade.

Whatever the case, as the city consumes salt to keep tax payers going to work, it will have to be replenished. Let's just hope it doesn't clog up our already inundated bridges and tunnels.

Seems like an investment in localized waterfront sources would be a wise one.
Oct. 4, 2016, 12:26 pm
Alice Tapia from Red Hook says:
Way to go John! "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail"
Oct. 4, 2016, 3:18 pm
Elephant facts from Africa says:
An adult male African Elephant weighs 14,000.

One ton weighs 2000 lbs

So 25,000 tons x 2000 lbs = 50,000,000 lbs

Thus 50m lbs / 14,000 (one African Elephant) = 3571 elephants.

BTW - an adult male blue whale weighs 300,000 lbs.

Thus 50m lbs / 300,000 (one blue whale) = 167 blue whales.

Now do the math on 45,000 tons, or total 70,000 of salt!
Oct. 4, 2016, 9:30 pm
Paul Mankiewicz from City Island says:
Salt is essential for all animals, but the question is always, ‘how much’. If you are going to use rock salt, sodium chloride to de-ice the roads, storing it by an estuary is far better than near any inland body of water. As the US Geological Survey has indicated, salting roads in upstate watersheds may keep them ice free, but can, and probably will, lead to higher sodium levels in drinking water supplies, a negative for some with high blood pressure.

In New York’s Upper Bay, between the Battery and the Narrows, salt concentrations run from seawater levels of about 32 parts per thousand (3.2%), to considerably less than half this, with great variation from tides, rainfall, runoff.

To put quantities in context, though, it would take 15,000 tons of rock salt to raise 360,000 tons of freshwater,
- a 10 feet of depth of water over 30 acres, to the salt concentration of the Atlantic, -about the concentration of the water that flows in daily with incoming tide under the Verrazano, so if salt surfaces here are decently protected, difficult to see how they carry much impact.

The starting point is not at all bad: intertidal rocky habitat at the end of Columbus Street is covered with the seaweed Fucus, a brown algal relative of kelp, a decent indicator of habitat and health of the ecosystem. Still, the best amount of discharge is none, and this is what we should aim at, - not for one industrial property, but for each and all.

Sims Recycling built a material handling facility on the Bronx River in 2008 that entirely captured all the rainfall from hurricanes Irene and Sandy. This is the same kind of landform as much of Red Hook, as well as 1/5th of the City, or 70 square miles, so we could probably do something similar here. Fringing wetlands and restored soil buffers could do this work.

We should get some indication/measures of where the runoff goes in Red Hook, check to see what might come off John Quadrozzi’s site, but also off the IKEA lands, the Cruise Terminal, &c, -playing no favorites, but looking at how much water goes in, what is fed into soils and plants, and what comes out, at what quality.

About a hundred species of migrating passerine birds are coming down the coast and through Red Hook right now, in this fall season, and while we might love lawns, it is the meadows and shrublands are attractors to these warblers, flycatchers, finches, sparrows. We have options: we can either dump runoff down the sewer or into the upper Bay, or incorporate rainfall into vegetation, -plant communities, - Life- along the edges of roadways, parking lots, work area, walls and rooftops.
Oct. 5, 2016, 12:20 pm

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