Arrival of spring means Tallinn sidewalk gritting cleanup operation starts

Icy sidewalk in Tallinn in winter.
Icy sidewalk in Tallinn in winter. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

With the winter thaw, the roughly 4,000 tonnes of grit spread on Tallinn sidewalks needs to be cleared up and disposed of.

Tarmo Sulg, head of the Tallinn Environment and Utilities Board (Tallinna keskkonna- ja kommunaalamet), a city agency, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Friday that the grit, consisting of crushed granite, has to be disposed off since it gets mixed in with other debris and garbage on the streets.

"You get cigarette butts, broken glass, bits of studded tires mixed in, which means the aggregate cannot be used in construction; according to the law on refuse, it has to go into the landfill site," Sulg said.

The cleanup process started a week ago, after milder weather immediately followed a cold and snowy early March, meaning large piles of swept up grit can be seen. In fact, hand-held machines similar to leaf blowers are used for this purpose.

Sulg added that attempts had been made around a decade ago to clean up the grit for re-use, but this worked out as uneconomical with the amount of water and power needed to be used, hence the disposal.

The problem is compounded by the use of studded winter tires, which can erode road surfaces and create debris which also needs clearing up.

The City of Tallinn and its seven districts have a contractual agreement with private sector firms to complete the work within 30 days of its start. The extra time is added to allow for a return of colder temperatures – forecast for mid-week next week, for instance – when the cleanup job must be put on hold.

Once the grit is cleared up, road surfaces are also cleaned.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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