ITD Highway 95 & 200 Megaload Public Records 7-31-14


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will post more of the most pertinent Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) public records about a proposed hydrocracker section transport up U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 200, en route to the Calumet Great Falls, Montana, tar sands refinery, as we scrutinize and sort about 100 documents received on July 31, 2014.  Also see the WIRT facebook site for posted email messages between heavy hauler Bigge Crane and Rigging and ITD.

Bigge Idaho Route Plan Draft 2 (May 29, 2014)

Bigge Transportation Plan – Revision 1 (May 29, 2014)

Mammoet Megaload Permit 7-27-14 (July 27 to 31, 2014)

Bigge Stages the Last Calumet Megaload

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Bigge Stages the Last Calumet Megaload 7-24-14 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Thursday, July 24, two Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists scouted the Port of Wilma, across the Snake River from Clarkston, Washington, to document with photos and ascertain any changes at the fenced compound where Bigge Crane and Rigging stores the last of three rusty, cylindrical, hydrocracker sections stranded since mid-December 2013.  Participants in the Nez Perce Environmental Summit on Saturday, July 19, discovered the two other, larger, megaload parts vanished, with crews still in the port lot leased by Omega Morgan in late 2013, for its two massive evaporator cargoes [1].  Last observed on short, 12-axle trailers at the port on Tuesday, July 15, the two heavier, missing loads, 573,000 and 661,000 pounds each, likely departed by barge downriver or by train on the Watco Companies Great Northwest Railroad to the Tri-Cities, Washington [2].  According to late-May newspaper articles that suggested megaload rail travel, haulers could have transported the shipments on Schnabel train cars as oncoming traffic to potentially explosive, West Coast-bound, unit “bomb trains” of fracked Bakken shale oil.  The behemoths could currently be moving across eastern Washington and northern Idaho on either Union Pacific or Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, then eastward on the BNSF railroad to a spur line heading south from Shelby to the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls.  The hydrocracker column formed by stacking the three purportedly irreducible components upright constitutes equipment essential to tripling Calumet Specialty Products Partners’ refinery production of Alberta tar sands, Bow River crude, and Bakken shale oil.

Activists noticed on July 19 that heavy hauler Bigge had left a white and red crane, a heavy-duty, white semi-truck, a small, orange truck, several flatbed trailers, and some white trailer pieces resembling the steel suspension systems seen around other, huge, fossil fuel contraptions in the region since February 2011.  The San Leandro, California-based company also abandoned the 504,000-pound, lightest, bottom part of the hydrocracker.  Its largest diameter of the three modules may have deterred its passage by train through tunnels, close, two-way tracks, or other rail line impediments, while its weight and length, when combined with interlocked trailers and trucks, could forebode the heaviest and longest megaload to ever traverse rural northern Idaho highway routes.  On Thursday evening, July 24, WIRT comrades saw additional Bigge gear that alerted them to imminent megaload movement, perhaps within a week.  A second, white semi-truck occupied the southwestern corner of the lot, while the orange truck, previously parked next to the hydrocracker piece, sat behind it, attached to the white trailer.  Absent during prior scouting forays, long, dark-blue, trailer sections loomed in front of the module, and a colossal, dark-blue, metal bar on a specialized semi-trailer, like the top of megaload lifts seen at the Ports of Pasco and Umatilla, crowded the eastern pavement outside the fence, along with a uniformed security guard in an older, white and red pickup truck. Continue reading

Refinery Says Megaloads to Go by Rail


But Calumet official won’t disclose when heavy machinery will leave Port of Wilma for Montana

Two of the three megaloads bound for a Calumet refinery in Great Falls, Montana, will leave the Port of Wilma by rail, not truck.

Exactly when the shipments will depart the Port of Wilma is not being disclosed, said company spokesman Noel Ryan.

Calumet will provide an update on the Great Falls project, which is doubling the capacity of the refinery, in its quarterly earnings report in early August.  Ryan said the company will not get into the details of how the machinery at the Port of Wilma is being transported.

Ryan’s statements came after days of heavy speculation by megaload opponents that two pieces of the equipment have left the port.  The machinery is so large that it would take up two lanes of highway, if it went by road.

The crude unit and hydrocracker that were taken to the Port of Wilma are key components in the expansion of the refinery, and Ryan said they will separate crude oil into products such as gasoline, diesel, and asphalt. Continue reading

Calumet Megaloads Depart the Port of Wilma


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Calumet Megaloads Depart the Port of Wilma 7-19-14 (July 19, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

According to at least four Saturday, July 19, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) eyewitnesses, two of the three Calumet tar sands refinery hydrocracker sections stranded at the Port of Wilma, Washington, since mid-December 2013 have vanished [1].  During the week of July 20, Bigge Crane and Rigging of San Leandro, California, is likely hauling these megaloads via river, rail, or road, from the port on the Snake River near Clarkston to the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls.  Last observed and described (but not documented with photos?) on short, heavy-duty, 12-axle trailers at the port on Tuesday, July 15, the loads were missing when a Saturday morning scout noticed crews still in the port lot previously leased for storage and staging of Omega Morgan “water filtration units.”  Questions about whether the hydrocracker parts departed by barge or rail downriver still linger, but after only a few days of travel, these megaloads may not have gone far.

In the fenced port compound, Bigge left white trailer pieces resembling the steel suspension systems seen around other huge fossil fuel extraction contraptions in the region since February 2011.  The company also abandoned the half-million-pound, lightest weight piece of the hydrocracker, the bottom part of the column formed by stacking the three components upright.  Its largest diameter, not weight, may have proved the critical factor restricting its passage by train through tunnels, close bi-directional tracks, or other rail line impediments [2].  Megaload owners and haulers cannot further downsize the three rusty, cylindrical sections and, as announced by late-May newspaper accounts, are probably shipping them to a trans-loading facility for transport on Schnabel train cars [3].  They could be moving the megaloads to the Port of Umatilla on the Oregon side of the Columbia River and attempting the previously permitted eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and western Montana heavy-haul route pummeled by three almost-as-massive Omega Morgan loads last winter, especially while forest fires close eastern Oregon rural routes. Continue reading

March 2014 Highway 95 Mammoet Megaload Updates


Issue Background

Dutch heavy hauling company Mammoet plans to move three 1.6-million-pound industrial shipments, measuring 441 feet long, 27 feet wide, and 16 feet high, from the Port of Wilma, Washington, near Lewiston, Idaho, to the Calumet-owned Montana Refining Company in Great Falls, Montana [1-4]. At this closest U.S. refinery to Alberta tar sands mining operations, these megaloads would contribute to tripling refinery conversion of 10,000 barrels per day of Canadian tar sands crude into Rockies transportation fuels. These pieces of a desulfurization reactor, a “hydrocracker,” would travel through Moscow, Plummer and Worley on the Coeur d’Alene Tribe Reservation, Coeur d’Alene, and perhaps Sandpoint before entering Montana [5, 6]. They would traverse 20th Street in Lewiston to avoid the rock face where Highways 12 and 128 intersect, and would only cross Moscow between 11 pm and 1 am on Sunday through Thursday, requiring removal of street light poles at the Washington Street curve, where the sidewalk would be closed between First and C Streets.

Since first public notice on December 13, 2013 – six weeks after initial Mammoet project proposal to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and after November 26 rejection by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) – until late February 2014, Mammoet intended to traverse Highway 95 and Interstate 90, exit at Sherman Avenue, and take East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive for 5.5 miles, to detour around the Veterans Memorial (Bennett Bay) Bridge, a span too tall and long to withstand these megaload weights [7-9]. At an Interstate 90 interchange at the end of the drive near Higgens Point, previously abandoned when the ground collapsed under earth movers during construction, the behemoths would cross under the freeway and mount a temporary, gravel on-ramp between two wetlands. The colossal shipments would access the westbound interstate lanes while traveling east for a short distance, before crossing to the eastbound lanes and over the 1319-foot-long Blue Creek Bay Bridge built in 1951, and then driving off the highway between Pinehurst and Smelterville. Between mid-January and mid-February, the ITD District 1 office in Coeur d’Alene and FHWA personnel in Boise exchanged and revised various documents including a draft environmental evaluation based on a categorical exclusion, per National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements [10, 11]. Without FHWA review and approval of this transportation project, called the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route, Mammoet and ITD could not construct the likely reusable “temporary” Interstate 90 on-ramp, which would accommodate megaload passage while endangering natural resources and public infrastructure.

On February 6, 2014, a day after final ITD documents submittal to FHWA, five regional conservation- and climate change-oriented groups including WIRT co-wrote and sent a letter of concern about these proposed Mammoet megaloads to FHWA, ITD, and other responsible city, county, state, and federal representatives and transportation, wildlife, and environmental agencies [12]. Wild Idaho Rising Tide, Spokane Rising Tide, Kootenai Environmental Alliance (KEA), Friends of the Clearwater, and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) strongly recommended that these agencies “better consider and act to prevent the implications of this proposed Mammoet move and on-ramp construction for air and water quality, wildlife and habitats, the regional environment and inhabitants, and global climate.” The grassroots organizations formally requested that the appropriate cooperating agencies comply with NEPA mandates, extend and expand their project review and public involvement processes and periods, and delay and deny project approval based on further analysis. Continue reading

Mammoet Megaloads Public Records 3-24-14


Selected, incomplete but ongoing posts of 95 public documents belatedly provided by the Idaho Transportation Department District 1 (Coeur d’Alene), in response to Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s third public records request for information and communication about Mammoet USA South’s proposed 2014 transport of three 1.6-million-pound megaloads on U.S. Highway 95 and Interstate 90 or Idaho Highway 200 to a Great Falls, Montana, tar sands refinery tripling its production:

Calumet Refinery CH2M Hill Great Falls Traffic Plan US95 HWY200

CDA Lake Drive Truck Route Draft Environmental Evaluation 1-9-14

FHWA Decision about CDA Temporary Truck Route 2-13-14

FHWA Letter about Mammoet Oversize Loads 11-26-13

Letter from Doug Ball SCRA

Pinehurst to Smelterville Route Revision

Re-Route Shoshone County

Transport Plan 3-18-14

Tribal and Climate Activists Gathering about Mammoet Megaloads


Higgens Point Enlarged

Friday, February 28, 3 to 5 pm, Conference Room A

Benewah Medical and Wellness Center, 1100 A Street, Plummer, Idaho

On Friday afternoon, February 28, at the Wellness Center in Plummer, Idaho, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) organizers are holding an inter-community discussion among Coeur d’Alene and Nez Perce tribal members and Coeur d’Alene and Moscow activists about three of the heaviest, longest, and widest megaloads to ever travel on Highway 95 through Moscow and the Coeur d’Alene Reservation and on Interstate 90 and East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive.

Dutch heavy hauling company Mammoet plans to move the 1.6-million-pound, 441-feet-long, 27-feet-wide, industrial transports to the Calumet-owned Montana Refining Company in Great Falls sometime in March or afterwards [1].  At this closest U.S. refinery to Alberta tar sands mining operations, these shipments would contribute to tripling refinery conversion of 10,000 barrels per day of Canadian tar sands crude into Rockies transportation fuels.  Per National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is currently reviewing this transportation project, called the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route, before Mammoet and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) can construct the likely reusable “temporary” Interstate 90 on-ramp near Higgens Point, which would accommodate megaload passage while endangering natural resources and public infrastructure. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: City of Moscow Mammoet Megaload Workshop 2-24-14


The Monday, February 24, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) features the entire recording of the January 15, 2014, public workshop hosted by the City of Moscow about Dutch hauling company Mammoet’s plans to ship the heaviest, longest, and widest ever megaloads in the region on Highway 95 and Interstate 90, through Moscow and Coeur d’Alene.  Representatives of Mammoet, the Idaho Transportation Department, the Idaho State Police, Latah County Sheriff’s Department, City of Moscow Police, and elected officials discussed plans to move the 1.6-million-pound, 441-feet-long, 27-feet-wide industrial transports to the Calumet refinery in Great Falls, where they will triple production of Alberta tar sands heavy crude oil.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide dirty energy developments and climate activism news, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as his KRFP DJ.