Officials Quiet about Use of De-Icing Chemical Police Say Substance May Have Caused Thorndale Road Accidents

By Kennedy, Kristy | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 15, 1997 | Go to article overview

Officials Quiet about Use of De-Icing Chemical Police Say Substance May Have Caused Thorndale Road Accidents


Kennedy, Kristy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kristy Kennedy Daily Herald Staff Writer

DuPage County officials refused Friday to say why they spread a de-icing chemical along busy Thorndale Avenue - a move police say may have contributed to five accidents in Wood Dale and Elk Grove Village.

The liquid chemical, calcium chloride, was sprayed along Thorndale, between Wood Dale and York roads, said DuPage County spokeswoman Julie Kelly.

"It was in anticipation of the snow," she said.

County transportation officials declined to answer any other questions because they are "looking into the whole situation," Kelly said.

Wood Dale police blame the chemical for making Thorndale Avenue slick and causing four car accidents Thursday. Another accident along Thorndale, in Elk Grove Village, injured four children and two adults.

Wood Dale police said they were told by county transportation officials the use of the chemical was "an experiment."

Naperville, the biggest town in the county, has tried several measures to combat snow-covered roadways. Public works officials there said they did not want to pin blame on the county but added they have never heard of calcium chloride being used by itself on roads before a storm.

The chemical is commonly used with rock salt in especially cold weather because it enhances the effects of salt in melting snow and allows the salt to work at lower temperatures, said Randy Simpson, a supervisor in the Naperville department.

City employees use the chemical when temperatures dip below 24 degrees.

"We wouldn't use it alone prior to a snow storm," Simpson said.

The chemical, which attracts moisture, also is used to keep dust down on construction sites, Simpson said.

While he has never used calcium chloride by itself, it has seemed slippery when a bucket tipped over or a bag opened and spilled at the public works building.

"When you have a small spill, it becomes slimy," he said, adding he does not have the perspective of a chemical engineer who would better understand its properties. …

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