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.
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.