Posted: Aug 6, 2013 4:59 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
Updated: Aug 6, 2013 6:35 PM
LEWISTON, ID - It's been nearly two years since the first "megaloads" sparked controversy coming across Idaho on their way to the "tar sands" oil fields in Alberta.
But a new load is stirring up the hornet's nest once more, with more voices sounding opposition over the latest shipments.
The first megaloads to travel across Highway 12 sparked lawsuits and controversy, eventually forcing companies like Exxon Mobile to abandon the route.
But that isn't stopping other companies from using the Clearwater and Lolo Pass route to move equipment from ports in Eastern Washington through Idaho and Montana and north to Canada.
This week the Idaho Department of Transportation has approved Omega Morgan's application to move a massive load of water purification equipment across the route. The load weighing more than 600 pounds, is 255-feet long, 21-feet wide and 24-feet tall. It's also the first time any load this large has tried to move during the busier summer months along the route.
The shipment has sparked the expected opposition from environmental groups and local residents, but this time around others like the Nez Perce Tribe and the Forest Service are also showing more active opposition to the shipment.
Tribal leaders say they are "shocked by Omega Morgan's audacity", pressing ahead with the shipments before the Forest Service finished its own review. Tribal members blocked the load for a time last night as it began the eastward trip with as many as 20 arrested.
More protests could happen tonight as the load makes its way east. And even as the contentious journey continues, environmental groups are checking into possible legal moves to block the latest shipments, just as they did two years ago.
Since they won't have winter weather to deal with, it's expected the load will make the Montana border at Lolo Pass before the end of the week.