Path Home Shows 2008 Show Archive August 2008 Show 0832 Solar Salt

Solar Salt

In an area known for hot, dry summers and never ending wind, salt has become an industry.
Solar Salt

Solar salt

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Cargill Salt

Show Dates

Show 0832: Solar Salt

Air date: August 10, 2008

 

Transcript

Rob: Well in an area known for hot, dry summers and never-ending wind, salt has become an industry. Located in western Oklahoma just 50 miles from the Great Salt Plains, lies an underground salt river, a natural resource that's been harvested since 1919. Our Alisa Hines takes us to the Cargill Solar Salt Plant near Freedom, Oklahoma.

Alisa: From atop a nearby hill, it's easy to see just how massive an operation Cargill Solar Salt Plant is. Todd Reasons is the plant manager.

Todd Reasons: I think we have about 1700 acres total. To have a solar salt facility, you need hot,

dry conditions, which Oklahoma has; and also you need, the wind helps in the evaporation process; plus the most obvious reason is, there's a natural brine source, or salt water, underneath the

property that we own here.

Alisa: From 100-feet deep wells, water is pumped onto the Oklahoma plain, where it sits, and evaporates. Imagine if you will, a glass of salt water you've left on the cabinet. When you mix the salt with the water, it dissolves; but once the water evaporates, you're left, once again with, salt. That's the same process Cargill uses, only on a much larger scale. Harvested from September

to December, the salt is piled into huge mountains over three stories high, and then processed

throughout the year into various salt products.

Todd Reasons: Water conditioning is one of our main products; and then we also do a lot of

agricultural salt products, like salt blocks; and then various industrial users that use bulk, industrial salt.

Alisa: All harvested, with huge machines, where safety is always the rule.

Todd Reasons: We place a huge emphasis on our employees. They're our number one asset, and related to that is our whole safety program, making sure we keep our employees safe.

Alisa: Charlotte Hadwiger is the business and industry services coordinator at Northwest Technology Center.

Charlotte Hadwiger: When you consider that they deal with such massive and potentially hazardous

machinery on a daily basis, to have one, lost-time accident in 13 years is just remarkable.

Alisa: Quite amazing considering Cargill harvests 140 tons of salt, each year.

Rob: Well interestingly, the drought this year, which was certainly hard on farmers, helped Cargill

harvest almost double the salt they normally would.