PORTLAND – The start of a megaload shipment of oil refinery equipment through Eastern Oregon has been put off until Sunday, and objections have been raised in Eastern Oregon that the state didn’t do enough to notify tribal and local government officials.
The shipment has also drawn protests from environmentalists gathered Sunday and Monday at the Port of Umatilla. They want to call attention to the global warming repercussions that could come from development of oil from the tar sands in western Canada.
The shipment weighing 901,000 pounds remained at the Port of Umatilla on Tuesday, two days after it was scheduled to move.
Spokeswoman Holly Zander for Omega Morgan, the Hillsboro company handling the move, said it took longer than expected to load and secure the shipment. The company hadn’t planned to move on the Thanksgiving weekend in any case, she said, so the trip through Eastern Oregon is now expected to start Sunday night.
“We weren’t in any huge rush,” she said.
The trip to Alberta, Canada, is expected to take 20 days, six in Eastern Oregon. It then goes to Idaho and Montana.
In Eastern Oregon, objections to the way the shipment was approved were raised at a meeting of a state Department of Transportation advisory panel on Monday, the Ontario Argus Observer reported.
Kayla Godowa of the Warm Springs tribe told the Southeast Area Commission on Transportation her tribe hadn’t been consulted about the move, which will go through a forest conservation area it owns near Prairie City, east of John Day.
The city manager of Vale, Lynn Findley, said there’s concern about a 90-degree turn the 380-foot-long transport has to make in that city, and Wes Allison of the Nyssa Road Assessment District said he’s worried about the impact of the move on a road and its bridges and culverts.
Megaloads are getting bigger, so the department is reassessing its process for public involvement, regional manager Monte Grove said.
The agency takes up to 10 days to process a megaload application, said spokesman Tom Strandberg, and in this case he sent out a news release and notified the Umatilla tribe in northeastern Oregon.
Six members of the Umatilla tribe also objecting to a lack of notification joined environmentalists at the port on Monday, the East Oregonian newspaper reported.