Friday, December 20, 2013

Megaload trudges on toward Blaine County

Mammoth shipment might reach Idaho this weekend

Express Staff Writer

    A humongous piece of water purification equipment bound for the tar sands oil fields of Alberta, Canada, continues its ponderous journey toward Idaho, and eventually through southern Blaine County on U.S. Highway 20.
    The shipment—a “megaload” weighing 450 tons and measuring 376 feet long—lost another travel day on Wednesday, as wintry weather threatened again in eastern Oregon. On Thursday, the shipment was at rest beside U.S. Highway 26 east of Ironside and about 30 miles northwest of Vale, said Tom Strandberg, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
    “They had some predictions of a couple of inches of snow, so they decided to hold off for the night,” Strandberg said Thursday. “They’re going to try to get to Vale tonight.”
    Once the shipment reaches Vale, which is just west of Ontario, it will be about 40 miles from the point in Idaho, near Homedale, where the route enters the Gem State.
    “Every day is kind of an unknown because of weather conditions,” Strandberg said. “If all goes well tonight, I would assume it’s about two days before it reaches your state. It’s trying to inch its way forward.”
    The shipment has been on the road since Dec. 2, when it left Umatilla, Ore., after being hauled by barge from Portland to the Port of Umatilla. It has twice been delayed by protesters and has lost several nights of travel because of wintry road conditions.
    Once in Idaho, the shipment will travel secondary highways, eventually travel through Blaine County and will exit the state into Montana near Salmon.
    This megaload is the first of three water purification units that Omega Morgan plans to move along the same route to Alberta.
    Moscow-based Wild Idaho Rivers Rising, an environmental activist group, has announced that it plans several protests in Idaho and Montana, including one south of Bellevue at Timmerman Junction.

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