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.

Concerns and Comments about the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route


February 6, 2014

John Perry, Field Operations Engineer/Team Leader

Brent Inghram, Environmental Program Manager

Federal Highway Administration Idaho Division

3050 Lakeharbor Lane, Suite 126

Boise, Idaho 83703

idaho.fhwa@fhwa.dot.gov

brent.inghram@dot.gov

Jason Minzghor, District 1 Operations Manager

Scotty Fellom, District 1 Business Manager

Idaho Transportation Department

600 West Prairie Avenue

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815

jason.minzghor@itd.idaho.gov

scotty.fellom@itd.idaho.gov

Sent via email and attachment

Concerns and Comments about the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route

Mr. Fellom, Mr. Inghram, Mr. Minzghor, Mr. Perry, and all,

On behalf of concerned Idaho and Washington citizens, potentially impacted human and non-human residents along the proposed Mammoet USA South, Inc. (Mammoet) transportation corridor, members and allies of Wild Idaho Rising Tide, Spokane Rising Tide, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and air, water, and soil quality, we the undersigned submit for the public record the enclosed and attached comments about the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive temporary overweight truck route and ramp (“project”) currently under review by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), per National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements.

According to ITD documents, we understand that Mammoet has requested ITD permits to haul three overweight equipment shipments (“megaloads”) three to four weeks apart, starting in February 2014, from the Port of Wilma, Washington, to Great Falls, Montana [1].  To nominally minimize the disruption of rolling, night-time, route closures guided, if not guarded, by pilot and perhaps police vehicles, Mammoet’s latest 1.6-million-pound, 472-foot-long, 27-foot-wide, 16-foot-tall behemoths would again travel U.S. Highway 95 north to Interstate 90 (I-90), then move east through Coeur d’Alene on the interstate to the Sherman Avenue exit.  Averting undue stress to the Veterans Memorial Centennial Bridge, the transports would alternatively drive 5.5 miles along East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive for approximately one hour, pass under the currently blocked I-90 overpass near Higgens Point, and re-enter Interstate 90 in the wrong direction, along a temporary on-ramp proposed for construction on the north side of the interstate.

Public records explain that this project would entail no construction along Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive or publicly accessible roadways, and that it would temporarily close I-90 for about ten minutes and remove six interstate concrete barriers on both sides of the westbound lanes, to facilitate access to the eastbound lanes after transport entry onto westbound lanes.  Apparently, ramp creation would necessitate “minor” grading of a 300-foot by 100-foot area north of Higgens Point and the interstate.  Surfacing this ramp with only gravel would bear the heaviest load ever attempted on this cross-Idaho route.

Because we the undersigned have been opposing transportation of tar sands and fossil fuel infrastructure components throughout the Northwest/Northern Rockies region since May 2010, we have directly experienced many of the detriments to our public resources and rights that these pursuits, especially by Mammoet, engender.  Our state transportation department and responsible elected and appointed officials have not been responsive to our concerns about these transports.  We are therefore co-writing and addressing this letter of concern to government agencies and representatives who may 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.

Besides FHWA and ITD personnel in Boise, Coeur d’Alene, and Lewiston, Idaho, we the undersigned are sending this statement to Idaho Governor Otter, Kootenai and Latah county commissioners, the mayor and city councilors of Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, the Idaho departments of Environmental Quality and Fish and Game, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. departments of the Interior and Transportation, and two attorneys well-versed in transportation and megaload issues.  Some of these agencies and citizens have advised against other highway expansion projects proposed by ITD, due to likely environmental impacts.  We urgently encourage their response while Mammoet’s and ITD’s proposal package remains under review.

Construction and use of the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive temporary overweight truck route would have significant impacts on the environment, which would directly challenge our interests, both as organizations and as American, Idaho, and Washington citizens, including but not restricted to the following impacts. Continue reading

Highway 95 Damage South of Moscow 4-2-12


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Highway 95 Damage South of Moscow 4-2-12 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

Between April 11, 2011, and March 6, 2012, Mammoet hauled over 70 transports weighing up to 500,000 pounds on U.S. Highways 12 and 95 and Interstate 90 through northern Idaho, between the Port of Lewiston and Lolo or Lookout Pass and into western Montana.  Expensively and dangerously facilitated by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), state police, and private contractors, its risky Imperial Oil megaloads imperiled the safety and schedules of travelers, while delaying, confusing, and blocking public highway access and traffic with their 16- to 24-foot, two-lane widths and lengthy, glaring cargoes and convoys.  Transport operations caused personal injury and property damage through numerous accidents and collisions with vehicles, tree branches, and power lines, as they degraded highways with washboard ruts in lane centers, and pummeled saturated road beds, crumbling shoulders, and outdated bridges [1-3].  Concurrent, colossal transportation ventures through the region, imposed by other haulers, crashed into cliffs and impeded public and private emergency services [4, 5].

As Mammoet again targets Highway 95 with the heaviest (1.6-million-pound), longest (474-foot), and widest (27-foot) tar sands megaloads ever to traverse Idaho, perhaps in February 2014, Wild Idaho Rising Tide releases these photos taken heading north like transports on the seven-mile stretch of the highway south of Moscow, Idaho, on April  2, 2012.  They depict washboard grooves in the middle of lanes, rippled center lines and areas, and cracked and stripped pavement layers on Highway 95, all inflicted by Mammoet’s Imperial Oil transports between July 2011 and March 2012.  Most recently – and significantly for water quality along the proposed Mammoet Coeur d’Alene lakeside megaload route – ITD authorized application of 1000 gallons of de-icing fluid of unknown chemical composition, to assist the re-start and passage of an Omega Morgan shipment hindered for weeks by weather and permit complications on the Idaho side of Lost Trail Pass [6]. Continue reading

City of Moscow Mammoet Megaload Meeting 1-15-13


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City of Moscow Mammoet Megaload Meeting 1-15-13 (January 16 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Wednesday, January 15, from 3 to 5 pm, during most people’s working hours, the City of Moscow, Idaho, held an “open” public meeting about three Mammoet-hauled oversize loads proposed for Highway 95 and Interstate 90 passage.  Moscow, Latah County, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), local and state law enforcement, Mammoet, and other officials participated in the information-sharing session in the downtown Moscow City Hall Council Chambers.  New Mayor Bill Lambert facilitated the discussion that primarily posed questions to ITD, Mammoet, and police representatives and viewed a brief Mammoet slide show about the venture.

Although the city sought written community input prior to the “hearing,” it disallowed opportunities for direct engagement through verbal public testimony and queries.  Two Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists re-asserted some direct democracy among the corporate lackeys, decrying this instance of lack of public involvement by occupying the front row near the chambers door, with mouths covered with tape reading “No Tar Sands” and with protest signs declaring “Stop Tar Sands,” “Idaho Says No! to Dirty Energy,” and “Wild Idaho Rising Tide Stands in Solidarity with ACFN” (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation). Continue reading