Sunday, June 3, marked the last transit of tar sands modules through Spokane and a rambunctious send-off by Wild Idaho and Spokane Rising Tide and Occupy Spokane activists. At 7:30 pm in the Magic Lantern Theatre, about 35 concerned Spokane citizens converged to watch the incisive documentary Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands and to discuss emerging local and continent-wide struggles around one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time: tar sands development near Fort McMurray, Alberta. As we grew weary of uncertain and false ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil shipment finales but nonetheless plotted our last Spokane megaload protest for that night, our Port of Pasco scout informed us just before the public screening that more Big Oil behemoths were poised to rumble through Spokane streets. At the movie showing and lively debate, we alerted attendees of their immediate opportunity to take action against the topic of the film. Considering the last transports’ historical significance, Terry Hill of Occupy Spokane posted a facebook event simply and aptly titled “Megaloads, Sunday, June 3, 2012.” Folks met at the Occupy Spokane Clubhouse at 11 pm before traveling to Third and Regal streets to tell ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil one more time, “not in our town.”
Even though convoy personnel had erected orange cones on the north/freeway side of East Third Avenue, to block our tactical parking on both sides of the street, we crowded the two lane stretch with our banner hanging from the pedestrian bridge and our bodies, protest signs, and vehicles lining the ruined road to America’s Mordor. Mayhem ensued as one of the largest of three tar sands modules passed within inches of outstretched arms and signs and a support vehicle darted back and forth behind it to survey width clearances. A city police officer across the street waved three passenger vehicles following the loads onward with a flashlight, when a stop sign-mimicking protest sign asserting “Stop Tar Sands” inadvertently halted them. One of the demonstrators captured the convoy CB radio chatter with his video, Megaload Spokane 6/4/2012, documenting the (hopefully) last megaloads to challenge the Northwest, available here with a few Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos. WIRT hosted Terry Hill of Occupy Spokane on our June 11 Climate Justice Forum radio program, talking about this final demonstration, other Spokane anti-megaload protests, and the Lilac City’s occupy movement and clubhouse.
Most significant to our Spokane anti-megaload agitation, news director Gavin Dahl of KYRS Thin Air Community Radio in Spokane invited Justin Ellenbecker of Occupy Spokane and Helen Yost of WIRT to talk on the Friday morning drive-time May 25 Local News entitled Amazon Responds To Activist Pressure: “Helen Yost from Wild Idaho Rising Tide joins us by phone to explain the opposition to Alberta tar sands megaload shipments. 350,000-pound loads of processing equipment have been trucked through Spokane under the cover of darkness. Climate activists are speaking out.” Within the interview between 8:56 and 22:35, this broadcast also includes KRFP Radio Free Moscow coverage of the August 25-26 Moscow megaload passage and protest.
In recognition of International Stop the Tar Sands/Climate Impacts Day on Saturday, a group of about eight activists met near East Third Avenue in Spokane, Washington, on Sunday evening, May 6, to protest megaloads of oversized equipment bound for Alberta tar sands operations from the Port of Pasco. ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil has been using Highway 395, Interstate 90, and city streets in Spokane and Spokane Valley since mid-October to transport road damaging shipments weighing up to 400,000 pounds and stretching over 200 feet long. Diverted in Idaho from their originally intended Highway 12 route by court challenges and from their alternative Highway 95 path by Moscow area protests, these pieces of a tar sands/bitumen processing plant will expand Canadian carbon fuel extraction, American dependence on oil, and continental greenhouse gas emissions, while reaping exorbitant profits for one of the wealthiest corporations on Earth. Continue reading
On Sunday, April 15, two Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists monitored three ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands shipments from the Port of Pasco, Washington, to Idaho, noting their convoy vehicles, timing and fluctuating speeds, traffic delays and disruptions, and overpass bypass routes. At a second pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, April 17, Helen Yost requested charges as lenient as the sentence of a megaload driver who hit a flagger-diverted vehicle on December 6, for her misdemeanors of throwing a foam board protest sign at the 415,000-pound, last Highway 95 megaload and air-kicking toward a Moscow police officer on March 6. Her lawyer, Ben Onosko of the Northern Rockies Justice Center, will file a motion questioning the definition of a moving vehicle and has scheduled a September trial for both citations. Listen between 9:48 and 2:34 of the April 17, 2012, KRFP Radio Free Moscow Evening Report, Earth Day Awards, to learn more about both situations.
Megaloads Move to Pasco
RICHLAND, Washington – If the weather holds, the last megaloads stranded at the Port of Lewiston will head out Tuesday toward Canada’s oil sands. These oversized truckloads of oil processing machinery have been very controversial. Now oil companies have switched to shipping smaller loads out of the Port of Pasco.
Read more and listen: Last Megaloads Depart from Lewiston This Week
(By Tom Banse, Northwest Public Radio)
(Link provided by Cass Davis)
Megaloads are currently held in a Wallace parking lot, and recent snowy weather will impact how quickly they can be transported from the Silver Valley (Shoshone News Press/Kelsey Saintz photo).
WALLACE — Megaloads will rest in a parking lot across from the Wallace visitors’ center for about four more months, depending on weather, said Mayor Dick Vester.
“It’s a welcome, positive economic impact across the valley,” he said, because drivers and crews are having to stay and utilize local resources. “That’s been a help to some of the businesses, restaurants, and hotels.”
During a special city council meeting December 1, members unanimously gave Vester the authority to enter into a contract with Mammoet Canada Western, a company specializing in heavy lifting and transport, to use the space for megaload parking and maintenance. Continue reading
Lot across from Wallace visitor center could be staging area
WALLACE — The city is discussing the idea of a megaload staging area that would be set up in the parking lot across from the visitors’ center.
During a special city council meeting Thursday, members unanimously gave Mayor Dick Vester the authority to enter into a contract to use the space for megaload parking and maintenance for six months. Continue reading
(The Spokesman-Review/Kimberly Lusk image)
Unclear if 250 oversize loads are bound for Alberta oil project
A series of superloads coming through Spokane will travel down a portion of Third Avenue during the next several months because they don’t fit under a bridge over Interstate 90.
Residents along the affected stretch of Third received notices Oct. 11 from the city of Spokane Neighborhoods Services stating the loads would exit I-90 at Altamont Street and travel down Third for several blocks because they are too big to fit under the nearby pedestrian bridge. They will re-enter the interstate at Rebecca Street.
Read more: Superloads Will Divert to Third Avenue
(By Chelsea Bannach, The Spokesman-Review)
Video: Deadly Spider Infestation at Port of Pasco Site
PASCO — A potentially deadly spider infestation at the Port of Pasco is affecting the massive loads in storage there.
The state says 20 workers called the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to report the problem. KIEWIT is managing the project and had to shut it down for now after people saw brown recluse, black widows, and spiders that aren’t even on this poster.
An exterminator was called in and is investigating how to get rid of the spiders. The infestation may include spiders that aren’t native to the U.S., since the megaloads came here from Korea.
(By Melanie Tubbs, KEPR TV, Pasco, Washington)
COEUR d’ALENE - En route to northern Alberta, two “megaload” tractor-trailers will soon be passing through Coeur d’Alene.
And despite assurances from oil company spokesmen, local environmentalists are concerned about accidents and delays.
On Friday, the Idaho Transportation Department issued a pair of oversized-load permits that will allow Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil to transport large oil equipment on U.S. Highway 95 and Interstate 90. Continue reading