Omega No More Again

Omega Morgan Megaloads FOC 5 7-22-13

Over the July 20-21 weekend, while climate activists from around the continent concluded the Rising Tide Continental Gathering at a remote Utah desert encampment, regional allies observed gigantic, spaceship-like megaloads traveling by barge up the Columbia and Snake rivers [1].  Manufactured for destructive Alberta tar sands extraction, weighing more than 600,000 pounds and measuring up to 255 feet long, 23 feet tall, and 21 feet wide on specialized trailers, two of at least ten large, cylindrical, pressure vessels arrived and offloaded at the Port of Wilma, Washington, near Lewiston, Idaho, late on Monday afternoon, July 22.  Heavy-haul company Omega Morgan has submitted a revised transportation plan seeking Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) permits for moving these wastewater evaporators across Idaho to Montana on U.S. Highway 12 [2].

But in an early February ruling in response to an Idaho Rivers United lawsuit argued by Advocates for the West, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill of Boise upheld Forest Service (USFS) authority to review state approval of megaload shipments that would traverse the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and the Lochsa/Middle Fork of the Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridors [3].  In his June 17, 2013, letter to ITD, Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell suggested interim megaload definitions and USFS approval criteria: Oversized loads should not require traffic to be fully stopped, the roadway or adjacent vegetation to be physically modified, or take longer than 12 hours to cross forest/river lands [4]. Continue reading

Controversial Megaloads Pay Dividends

An evaporator sits idle at the Port of Wilma in Clarkston after arriving by barge. The equipment bound for Alberta will be used to recycle steam for processing tar sands (Lewiston Tribune/Kyle Mills photo).

Industry touts ability of evaporators docked at Port of Wilma to create jobs, conserve resources.

Two megaloads sitting at the Port of Wilma are creating work for Americans and are destined to help an oil company conserve water.

The evaporators were manufactured by Ellett Industries near Vancouver, Canada, which purchased more than $2.5 million in American materials for the project, said Bob Gill, vice president of sales for the company.

American tug boat companies handled the shipments after they entered U.S. waters just south of Vancouver, and the equipment was barged up the Columbia and Snake rivers, Gill said.

The insulation for one of the evaporators is being installed at the Port of Wilma, Gill said, a task that will employ about ten people for two to three weeks. Continue reading