12/5/2008

A 99-day strike by potash mine workers in Canada could affect travelers in the U.S. this winter, according to the U.S. government, due to a severe shortage in a runway de-icing fluid that uses potassium acetate that comes from the mines. The strike ended last month, but chemical manufacturer Cryotech said it would be able to produce only 2 million to 3 million gallons of the fluid this winter, compared to 9 million last winter. "It is possible that runways may not be able to be maintained to the same level as previous years during winter storms," the FAA warned in a memo to airlines. Airports do have alternative de-icing chemicals to use for maintaining runway surfaces, but they are more expensive.

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