[MONDAY UPDATE: The relentless warriors against tar sands megaloads NEED YOU on the frontlines with us TONIGHT, as the first, heaviest, and longest megaload of tar sands mining equipment ever to transgress Umatilla and Warm Springs aboriginal homelands in eastern Oregon launches on Monday night, November 25. The 901,000-pound, 376-foot-long behemoth hauled by Omega Morgan never left the Port of Umatilla as scheduled on Sunday night, although 20 protesters from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington expressed their outrage with chants, musical instruments, banners, and signs, as documented with regional media articles and forthcoming photos and videos. Please contact Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allies by phone or email and/or meet us at 6 pm in the Desert River Inn lobby at 705 Willamette Avenue in Umatilla, Oregon. We will be gathering, strategizing, and preparing for historic protesting and monitoring activities starting at 7 pm at the Port of Umatilla. Join this epic resistance to the first Alberta tar sands megaload in Oregon! Besides protesters, we need monitors along every mile of Omega Morgan’s path, to gather evidence for lawsuits emerging soon. Please bring (or borrow our) protest signs, banners, and equipment, musical instruments and voices, audio and video recorders, cameras, notepads, and your spirit of solidarity and freedom of expression.]
Late on Friday afternoon, November 22, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) issued a permit to Hillsboro, Oregon-based heavy-hauler Omega Morgan, who intends to begin moving the first, heaviest, and longest megaload of tar sands mining equipment ever to transgress Umatilla and Warm Springs aboriginal homelands in eastern Oregon on Sunday night, November 24 [1, 2, 3]. Embarking from the Port of Umatilla, the “water purification vessel and parts,” like the evaporator core that just traversed northern Idaho on November 10 to 13, will compromise traveling citizens’ safety and convenience and Americans’ shared highway and bridge infrastructure along segments of Interstate 84, U.S. Highways 20, 26, 395, and 730, and Oregon Highway 201 [4, 5, 6]. Although the module measures only 98 feet long and weighs 330,000 pounds, the total transport system of heavy-duty pull and push semi-trucks, specialized trailers, and their cargo stretch out 380 feet, weigh 901,000 pounds, crowd both 12-foot lanes of two-lane highways with their 23-foot width, and cannot clear 16-foot-tall overpasses with their 19-foot heights [7, 8]. Eight crew members and tillermen steering the equipment through sharp corners and several pilot and flagger vehicles guiding traffic in front and behind the convoy, as well as an ambulance and full-service repair truck, will accompany the oversized freight that contains no hazardous materials, fuels, or liquids . Its dimensions rival the longest and heaviest megaloads ever encountered in northern Idaho and western Montana since the issue arose in spring 2010.
Restricted to overnight travel between 8 pm and 6 am, to purportedly reduce impacts on other travelers, this first of at least three giant evaporator parts cannot delay traffic for more than 20 minutes. The other two megaloads also arrived at the Port of Umatilla on November 21 and could move on the same route in late November and December. To allow oncoming and following motorists to pass, the dozen or more vehicles in the convoy will stop other traffic and/or pull over every five to seven miles, as they use on and off ramps to avoid Interstate 84 overpasses between Stanfield and Pendleton and head southeast through Umatilla, Grant, Baker, and Malheur counties, to the state border near Homedale, Idaho. Due to numerous highway curves, climbs, and descents, especially in the slow sections of Highway 395, this inaugural megaload could require six days to cross Oregon in the best conditions or longer, when inadvertent weather, snow and ice on road surfaces, or holiday traffic impede its onslaught. Omega Morgan and ODOT have not determined its exact schedule. Continue reading