Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Second megaload to pass through Blaine County

Environmental activists planning ‘peaceful’ protest

Express Staff Writer

     A second megaload of oil production equipment bound for Alberta, Canada, will likely move through southern Blaine County this week but was being held until the first shipment starts moving again, the Idaho Transportation Department announced Tuesday.

     As with the first megaload that was moved through the junction last week, environmental activists plan to protest.

     “It will be very peaceful—just whatever community members come out,” said Helen Yost, community organizer for Moscow-based Wild Idaho Rising Tide and one of seven protesters who held signs or banners when Megaload I passed through on Dec. 31.

     The shipments are bound for the Athabasca tar sands oil production area in northeast Alberta. Environmental groups oppose the megaload shipments because of the environmental impacts of tar sands oil production.

     Idaho State Police reported that Megaload I was parked Tuesday off state Highway 93 at Lost Trail Pass north of Gibbonsville, about 10 miles from the Montana border. It cannot be moved into Montana until it receives a travel permit from the Montana Transportation Department, which, according to news media reports, is still evaluating the intended route through that state but expects that the permit will be issued this week.

     Megaload II, 349 feet long and weighing almost 800,000 pounds, is slightly smaller than Megaload I. Megaload II was moved into Idaho from Oregon on Sunday morning near Homedale in southwest Idaho. ISP reported that the shipment was parked Tuesday at the top of Cat Creek Summit west of Fairfield on U.S. Highway 20.

     According to the permit to travel through Idaho, the shipments can only be moved from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

     Holly Zander, spokeswoman for Omega Morgan, the Oregon-based company hauling the loads, said Tuesday that it was unknown when a third megaload would leave Port of Umatilla, Ore.

     ISP announced Tuesday that it will post information on the shipments’ locations in Idaho every morning on its Twitter account @IdahoStPolice.

     In a press release, the agency reported that its Regional Communications Center and county sheriff offices have been “inundated” with calls from the public and the news media regarding locations of the megaloads.

     “The easy access to the information is being provided with the hope that the public will get the information that they desire to view the shipments, while keeping ISP and county sheriff dispatch phone lines open for emergency communications,” the press release states.

     ISP further reminded the public to use caution when viewing the shipments.

     “The safety of the public is the top priority of law enforcement at those locations,” the press release states. “The public is reminded to obey all traffic laws and to use common sense when stopping to view or photograph trucks.”

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