Megaloads Suspended after Accident

Driver leaves staging area, striking van with module

The Idaho Transportation Department has suspended further shipments of Imperial Oil refinery modules from the Port of Lewiston following a Tuesday night accident south of Moscow.

Three shipments that left the port Tuesday night were supposed to stop at a staging area on U.S. Highway 95 before traveling through Moscow in a convoy, but one driver attempted to leave the area before southbound traffic was released, said Capt. Lonnie Richardson with Idaho State Patrol Region 2 in Lewiston. The module itself struck a Chevy Astro causing severe damage and minor damage when it was pushed into the vehicle behind it. No one was injured, Richardson said.

“The driver did not remain at the staging area once he got there,” said Richardson. “The driver did not follow the approved safety plan … This was clearly driver error.”

While ISP continues its investigation, shipments have been suspended until a safety plan is approved,according to an email statement from ITD spokesman Adam Rush. The suspension includes three shipments schedule to travel Wednesday.

Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser said the oil company will keep its shipments suspended until safety issues are corrected to its standards.

“Until we can make measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again, we won’t move until we’re confident this won’t happen again,” said Rolheiser. “Imperial would ultimately be responsible. It’s our understanding that the damage to the vehicle was relatively minor, but we take incidents like this very seriously.”

While ISP holds a contract to escort the shipments from the Port of Lewiston to the Idaho/Montana border, Richardson said there is no conflict with his agency investigating the accident, adding safety is one facet of the agreement.

“Initially, that’s one of the reasons we got involved,” he said, adding ISP officers were immediately available. “Every attempt was made to stop the load from moving forward, short of yanking out the driver. It just happened too quick … We were able to handle the incident expediently.”

(By Brandon Macz, Moscow-Pullman Daily News)

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