On Sunday afternoon, October 20, on the way to scout the Port of Wilma, three Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists spotted a megaload with an oversized load banner and Alberta license plates (4MMO-31). The liquid full absorber manufactured by Doosan Heavy Industries Vietnam, on Trail King trailers licensed in Alberta and provided by R & D Trailer Rentals, parked facing downhill (southbound) at the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) weigh station on the top of the Highway 95 Lewiston grade. The cylindrical module, used to process natural gas or other fossil fuels, measures 15.38 feet wide, 14.64 feet high, and 38.71 to 49.21 feet long, with a gross weight of 64,174 pounds. WIRT documented the equipment specifications with videos and photos.
Nez Perce tribal activists Alicia and Mary Jane Oatman were traveling west on U.S. Highway 12 near Greer, during daylight hours on Monday, October 21, when they saw this oversized load with Alberta license plates speeding east with two pilot cars, wide enough to take up a lane and a half. As soon as they reached a cell phone service area, they called their mother, Judy Oatman, to ask if she could videotape the mini-megaload’s passage and get its permit information. Judy confronted the Canada-bound transport by staging a perpendicular, solo vehicle blockade, to briefly stop the Vietnam-made absorber crossing her mother’s land. She questioned the transport crew and put them on notice that they were trespassing illegally through Nez Perce lands. They drove around her truck, probably called the cops, and proceeded through Kamiah and over the Clearwater River bridge. Judy took two separate videos with good footage and continued monitoring the sneaky big corporations’ obviously dangerous load, as it probably headed to Alberta to refine natural gas used to extract and process tar sands.
Without news of this shipment in the regional papers, and allies awaiting the results of their gracious Highway 95 public records request, no one knew what the load was (a natural gas dehydrator?), where it came from (across Washington from the coast or rivers?), and where it was going in Canada. Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) sent out a media release to motivate press communication with various state agencies, in an effort to belatedly reveal the truth of the situation on Tuesday. A media source contacted Lonnie Richardson of the Idaho State Police, who said that this big load (and similar ones to come) traveled Highway 12 to the Gifford Reubens Road to Highway 95, bypassing a defunct railroad trestle near Lapwai and heading south toward Grangeville. This natural gas processor could have moved southward toward the soon-to-be-fracked Payette County oil and gas field. But our trustworthy Nez Perce allies saw the load move through Kamiah. Dennis Bernstein of the nationally broadcast radio show Flashpoints called WIRT, in response to our October 21 press release, but we told him that we still did not have enough information about this fiasco. KRFP Radio Free Moscow covered the incident on its Monday evening report, and Judy called and interviewed for KRFP’s Tuesday evening news program.
The Idaho Transportation Department stated that the module was an “excessive load,” not considered a “megaload.” The agency provided no public notice of this transport except a returned phone call from Doral Hoff of the ITD Lewiston office, who confirmed that the megaload traveled on Highway 12 to Montana and Canada during daylight hours on Monday, October 21. For a few days, WIRT and tribal allies remained unsure whether this absorber went up Highway 13 to Highway 95 and south to Payette County gas fields or up Highway 12 to Montana and Alberta. On Wednesday, October 23, Adam Rush of the Boise ITD office verified that the mini-megaload arrived at the Montana border, via Highway 12, at 3:30 pm PDT on that Monday. He also described a typical three-step process of public notification about this transport that was inexplicably rushed and unaccomplished in this instance. Unimpeded by Judge Winmill’s preliminary injunction and the subsequent Forest Service closure order prohibiting Highway 12 passage of only Omega Morgan megaloads larger than 16 feet wide and 150 feet long, this hauling company and ITD blatantly disregarded the regional tar sands/megaload resistance community. This situation and the October 15-16 dismantled evaporator transports through Moscow on Highway 95 prove that ITD will sneak Omega Morgan and other companies’ oversized shipments up both Highways 12 and 95.
Vietnam-Made Liquid Full Absorber 10-20-13 (October 20 Wild Idaho Rising Tide videos)
Nez Perce Briefly Block Oversize Load Nearly Big Enough to Trigger Judicial Review (October 21 KRFP Evening Report)
Interview with Nez Perce Woman Who Temporarily Halted Load Almost Big Enough to Qualify as Megaload on Reservation (October 22 KRFP Evening Report)
(All photos except the Kamiah photo provided by Wild Idaho Rising Tide)