Things are salty again along the Columbia Waterfront District — and fed up residents are ready for a low-sodium diet.
The mountain of road salt stored at the Red Hook container terminal along Columbia Street between Baltic and Kane streets is rising once again, causing consternation among those who have raged against the outlaw mineral.
On windy days, the salt — used to de-ice roads after snowstorms — is blown from the pile and dispersed to residents’ homes, gardens and cars.
“I knew something was up because the front door wasn’t working properly,” groused resident Lauren Young. “Something about the salt affects the locks.”
And that’s not all. “It definitely leaves a taste in your mouth,” she said. “And I have no idea if this is dangerous to ingest.”
For years, residents have railed against the pile, which is supposed to be covered with tarpaulin, but is currently exposed again.
Last year, Matt Yates, the director of commercial operations for American Stevedoring International, took full responsibility for mess, apologizing to residents and admitting that mistakes have been made in handling the pesky — but necessary — mineral.
“It had been our intention to either re-locate or eliminate large scale off-season storage of salt at the facility,” Yates said.
The mound was uncovered for the past few days because of the constant loading and unloading done to the pile. The manufacturer, a Pennsylvania outfit called International Salt, claims that it moistened the pile to prevent escape.
The salt will be trucked to city storage facilities across the five boroughs, soon turning the mountain into a molehill, so Yates downplayed the problem.
“The salt [is] from the last ship of this season [and] will be used to replenish depleted inventory,” he said. “That issue is now largely moot.”
Still, residents were dismayed that little has been done to improve the situation in more than a year.
“It just keeps growing,” said Brian McCormick, a Kane street resident and a board member of the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association, a civic group. “The community was led to believe they would come back with a plan for putting in management protocols to mitigate the effects of salt.
“There is a sense of frustration that there has been no movement toward a solution,” he added.