Megaload Moves On, 16 Arrested

Crowds gather in Prairie, John Day, as protesters chain up

Police arrested 16 protesters on Monday night, after they tried to block the Omega Morgan megaload from traveling through John Day.

In two separate incidents, protesters chained themselves to vehicles on the route, but the efforts succeeded only in delaying the departure of the load.

Omega Morgan, the load’s Hillsboro-based hauler, had planned to depart the west edge of John Day at 8 pm, but left at about 9:30 – after police had cleared the highway.

The massive transport – 23 feet wide, 19 feet tall, and 380 feet long, including pusher and puller trucks – headed east on Highway 26 through downtown John Day and Prairie City.  Traveling into the mountains, it was parked Tuesday morning at the Oregon Department of Transportation weigh station at Austin Junction.  It was expected to move again on Tuesday night, but got special permission to travel in the daylight to avoid heavy frost over Eldorado Pass, east of Austin.

Destined for the tar sands region of Alberta, Canada, the load drew waves of spectators as it moved, and parked, its way through Grant County in the past week.

The cargo is a 96-foot-long vessel known as an evaporator, which uses steam to salvage water that otherwise would be lost in the tar sands extraction process.  It was manufactured in Portland and barged to the Port of Umatilla for the road journey.

Protesters, concerned about climate change and damage to the environment, have been tracking the load, and they kept police busy on Monday night. Continue reading