Society

Old Maritime Law and Homeland Security Block Salt For NJ Roads

| by Jared Keever

New Jersey has been inundated with snow storms this winter and is badly in need of salt for its icy roads. A 40,000 ton shipment of salt to the state is being held up because the ship that would deliver it does not carry a U.S. flag, reports the New York Daily News.

The hold up is the result of the 1920 federal Maritime Act. The law prevents the movement of cargo between U.S. ports by foreign vessels. Its intent was, originally, to protect the nation’s shipping industry, says Fox News New York.

In order for a ship not flying the U.S. flag to carry the shipment a waiver would have to be issued by the Department of Homeland Security. New Jersey’s Star-Ledger reports that New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez have both contacted the department as well as the Department of Transportation to try and secure the waiver.  

Townsquare Media reported, last week, that the first such waiver was actually denied by Homeland Security.

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The closest ship that could legally carry the large shipment is days, possibly weeks, away. Until it arrives, or a waiver is secured, salt shipments will come from Maine on smaller, slow-moving barges. The barges carry about 500 tons each but the city of Jersey City, alone, uses 800 tons in a typical storm.

Jersey City Mayor, Steve Fulop, underscored the urgency of the situation when he told New York Daily News that he placed an order for salt from the state 18 days ago. He hasn’t received that shipment yet. Orders typically take 2 or 3 days to arrive. 

Roadways are already hazardous in the region and the area is expected to receive more snowfall Tuesday morning.

"It's as frustrating as frustrating can be. People aren't getting the services they need," Fulop said. "We need salt and some help with Mother Nature."

Sources: New York Daily News, Fox News New York, The Star-Ledger, Townsquare Media