Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Megaload expected through Timmerman on Monday night

Protest organized against shipment of oil production equipment

Express Staff Writer

    A behemoth load of oil production equipment, usually referred to as a megaload, was expected to pass through Timmerman Junction in southern Blaine County either late Monday night or early this morning.
    “It’s stopped this morning 26 miles west of Fairfield on top of Cat Creek Summit,” Idaho Transportation Department spokesman Adam Rush said Monday. “The forecast for tonight is it will be moving.”
    The megaload, including the trucks and trailers used for transport, weighs 450 tons and is 382 feet long. Only allowed to travel at night, the load was moved about 46 miles Sunday night from the Hammett area and onto U.S. Highway 20 at Mountain Home. On Saturday night, it traveled 96 miles from Marsing to Hammett.
    The shipment first started moving from Umatilla, Ore., on Dec. 2 but was delayed frequently by wintry weather. It averaged only about 15 miles per day in Oregon, but is moving at a much faster pace across southern Idaho.
    Rush said that after tonight’s movement, the megaload will not be able to be transported either tonight or Wednesday night.
    “That’s an ITD policy,” Rush said. “We have six major holidays when they can’t travel.”
    The megaload is bound for the Athabasca tar sands oil production complex in northeast Alberta, Canada, where it will be used in the process of extracting crude oil from bitumen, a tar-like substance.

We’re looking for a pretty good protest. We missed out on it last night in Mountain Home, so we’re looking for a pretty good turnout tonight.”
Helen Yost
Wild Idaho Rising Tide

    The shipment drew a protest in Marsing when it departed on Saturday, but there were only four protesters.
    Helen Yost, community organizer for Wild Idaho Rising Tide, a Moscow-based activist group opposed to megaload shipments, said there were 100 spectators when the shipment left.
    “It was pretty much a hostile crowd to us, but we did what we had to do,” she said.
    A protest was also organized for passage of the shipment through Timmerman Junction south of Bellevue, where U.S. Highway 20 intersects state Highway 75. Carpools were being organized to leave for the site on Monday evening, with the expectation that the shipment wouldn’t pass through Timmerman until at least midnight.
    “We’re looking for a pretty good protest,” Yost said Monday. “We missed out on it last night in Mountain Home, so we’re looking for a pretty good turnout tonight.”
    Environmental activists oppose the megaload shipments because they claim they damage roads and bridges and because they are used for tar-sands mining, which they claim adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, causes irreversible damage to the environment, destroys wetlands, kills migrating waterfowl and violates treaty rights of Indian tribes in Canada.
    Blaine County sheriff’s officers also planned to be at Timmerman Junction Monday night.
Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com

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