Idaho-to-Canada trips sparked controversy
LEWISTON – The final two oversized loads of oil field equipment at the Port of Lewiston were set to be shipped out 18 months after the first massive Korean-built equipment arrived by barge via the Columbia and Snake rivers.
Imperial Oil moved three loads on Sunday and planned to move two more late Tuesday, weather permitting, company spokesman Pius Rolheiser said.
“There will still be some additional loads coming out of the port, but they’ll be legal loads on conventional trailers as opposed to these over-legal loads on hydraulic trailers,” Rolheiser told the Missoulian.
Rolheiser estimated the company has 100 loads remaining at the Port of Pasco in Washington, which also will travel Interstates 90 and 15 through Montana.
Previous loads have traveled from Lewiston north to Coeur d’Alene on Highway 95 then through western Montana on Interstate 90 and Interstate 15, and into northern Alberta, Canada, for an oil sands project.
The two final shipments are 24 feet wide and 15 feet high. One is 215 feet long and weighs 415,000 pounds. The second is 135 feet long and 255,000 pounds.
The first of 34 immense loads of equipment arrived at Lewiston by barge in the fall of 2010 but were stranded there by legal protests and an environmental review in Montana.
Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil ultimately opted to reduce the size of the original loads and ship them via interstate rather than the proposed two-lane routes of U.S. Highway 12 over Lolo Pass and Highway 200 in Montana. The smaller shipments began last summer.
“We hope ExxonMobil now has a greater understanding about Idaho and Montana geography and history, and the tenacity of rural people protecting their way of life and the unique values of the places they call home,” said Linwood Laughy, who lives along Highway 12 in the Kooskia, Idaho, area.
“We also hope other corporations that might be considering the Highway 12/200 route will choose the interstates for their transportation needs,” he said. “An even better plan would be to build their equipment not in Asia but in the United States and Canada.”
Members of Wild Idaho Rising Tide have regularly protested the large loads as they move through Moscow, Idaho. Several demonstrators have been arrested, including two on Sunday night.
Moscow Police Chief David Duke said officers arrested Cass Davis, 47, and James Prall, 67, after they and two women were dragged off the road and the men ignored orders not to re-enter the highway.
Davis and Prall pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer.
Wild Idaho Rising Tide officials have said they plan to protest Tuesday’s loads, as well.
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