Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman Junction 12-30-13


Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman 12-30-13 (December 30 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Monday, December 30, about 20 people gathered between 9 pm and 2 am at Timmerman Junction, to protest, document, and/or watch a megaload of tar sands equipment travel east from Cat Creek Summit, across south central Idaho, and eventually north through Montana and Alberta [1-6].  The first of three shipments moved by Portland area heavy hauler Omega Morgan since December 2 and over the next month, on a new route departing from the Port of Umatilla, Oregon, the 901,000-pound, 376-foot-long heat exchanger core of a wastewater evaporator is owned and designed by General Electric subsidiary Resources Conservation Company International.  Athabasca Oil Corporation will install these mining effluent recyclers in its Hangingstone steam assisted gravity drainage tar sands mining facility southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta [7].  Protest organizers 350 Idaho, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allies extend our gratitude to Idaho Mountain Express reporter Terry Smith for his recent articles that have single-handedly, locally educated Wood River Valley residents about Alberta tar sands issues.

Most of the progressive participants in the Monday night demonstration hailed from the Wood River Valley towns of  Gannett, Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley, within ten miles of Timmerman Junction, the intersection of east-west-trending U.S. Highway 20 and north-south thoroughfare Idaho Highway 75 in Idaho.  Some protesters arrived at the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) rest area meeting place, on the southwest side of the junction, after traveling 55 miles from Twin Falls or 125 miles from Boise.  At least three generations held protest signs and banners against the corporate, industrial onslaught that slowed beneath the intersection signal light at about 1:30 am on Tuesday morning, December 31.  During megaload passage, police closed both highways to regular traffic.

Hours before the convoy of contracted flaggers, pilot vehicles, a “pole truck” that measures height clearances, private security personnel, and state police escorts traversed the junction, law enforcement officers placed orange cones with signs reading “No Parking: Temporary Police Order” around the intersection.  Observers noticed hidden vehicles parked behind a highway department shed on the northwest junction corner and among trees to the southeast of the intersection.  When county and state police officers saw activists standing on the roadside looking toward their concealed vehicles, they emerged and warned the protesters taking photos of their “No Parking” signs to stay away from traffic.  As activists and gawkers huddled together for warmth in their vehicles parked in the rest area, state police cruisers drove through the lot several times, presumably noting the identities of the gathered vehicles’ owners.

Alerted by up-road scouts and the greater numbers of support and police vehicles converging at Timmerman Junction, protesters, photographers, and onlookers clustered beneath a street light west of the intersection.  They stood in solidarity with Northwest and Canadian tribal and climate activists, to display their opposition to the irreversible damages imposed by tar sands megaloads on indigenous treaty rights, life ways, and health, on public infrastructure and civil liberties, on boreal forests, wetlands, wildlife, and watersheds, and on greenhouse gas emissions and global climate.  The relatively rapid demonstration seemingly attracted more police officers than protesters, who all dispersed within 15 minutes of the megaload confrontation.

This first southern Idaho tar sands megaload traveled 123 miles through growing resistance, between 10 pm and 6 am during the night of December 30-31, to park east of Arco and Butte City, Idaho, at the junction of U.S. Highway 20/26 and Idaho Highway 33 [8, 9, 10].  ITD policies prohibiting holiday movement of overlegal and oversize loads have suspended megaload transit on New Year’s Eve and Day, until at least 10 pm on Thursday, January 2.  Depending on weather that could include snow on Friday, the transport may resume its journey on Thursday night, as each push and pull truck burns a gallon of fuel every two miles they roll up the Lemhi Valley.  A few nights will take them 147 miles to Salmon and over the hairpin turns of Lost Trail Pass, from Idaho into Montana [11].  Like previous state provisions for similar megaloads, its Montana permit will likely disallow travel on Friday and Saturday nights.

[1] Update: Megaload Will Move Overnight Monday, Then Idle for Holiday (December 29 Idaho Statesman)

[2] Megaload Continues Journey through Idaho (December 30 KTVB)

[3] Megaload Attracts Mega Looky-Loos near Pine (December 30 Twin Falls Times-News)

[4] Gallery: Megaload at Cat Creek Summit (December 30 Twin Falls Times-News)

[5] Megaload Expected through Timmerman on Monday Night (December 31 Idaho Mountain Express)

[6] Megaload Moves through Timmerman Junction (December 31 Idaho Mountain Express)

[7] Megaloads Headed to Large Industrial Complex (December 31 Idaho Mountain Express)

[8] New Year Likely To Bring More ‘Megaload’ Fights (December 31 Oregon Public Broadcasting)

[9] Here’s Your Daily Megaload Update (December 31 Idaho Statesman)

[10] Megaload Draws Mostly Yawns in Arco (December 31 Post Register/Idaho Statesman)

[11] Port of Umatilla, Oregon, to Salmon, Idaho (January 1, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide/Google Maps)

1 thought on “Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman Junction 12-30-13

  1. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: Megaload Calls to Action on Tuesday in Moscow, Missoula, & Beyond | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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