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Wednesday, August 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Second megaload’s future uncertain


The smaller, first shipment by Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil crossed the Idaho/Montana border Monday night but — with a day left before the oil company’s permits with the Idaho Transportation Department expire — there has been no indication when the second load of refinery equipment will roll.

Protesters in Moscow, Idaho, had planned to greet the first load, which weighs 69,550 pounds and is 17 feet wide, 14 feet high and 81 feet long — midnight Friday at the Pie Hole along Washington Street, but were surprised to find out that it had already come and gone.

Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser said last week that the shipment would follow the same protocol — though the ITD did not require it — as the permitted plan for the larger module. That meant traveling between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. for three nights, stopping first at the Latah/Benewah county line. Instead, protesters said they found out it left at dusk — the permit allowed travel during “night-time hours” — and rolled through Moscow a little before 10 p.m.

According to Imperial Oil’s website for the shipments destined for the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta, Canada, the shipment made it all the way past Coeur d’Alene and onto Interstate 90 its first day.

Departure of the larger — 23-foot-wide, 208-foot-long, 13 1/2-foot-tall — shipment remains uncertain.

ITD spokesman Adam Rush on Monday said the oil company can request an extension if it decides to move today — the last day a permit held by contracted transportation company Mammoet is valid — or allow its permit to expire and file for another.

“It would probably not take long in either case,” he said. “The only information that would change is the five-day period.”

If Mammoet does move Tuesday, Rush said, an extension can be requested to provide extra time to reach the Idaho/Montana border.

“They might need more than a day to get across and up through I-90,” he said, adding they could also request an extension if weather or mechanical issues delay the shipment once it is en route. “Just because they didn’t complete that trip in five days doesn’t mean they can’t keep going.”

Several reports through the Idaho State Police Region 2 dispatch line in Lewiston indicated that the oil company was waiting to receive a permit from the Montana Department of Transportation before transporting the overlegal load. MDT lead attorney Dave Ohler said the department had not received a permit application as of Monday for the second shipment.

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