Biggest Megaload Never!


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Protest Places & Tentative Times

Lewiston: Sunday, August 10, 9 pm: Arrive at the park/boat launch at Frontage Road and Steelhead Way, before the convoy closes Frontage Road, and expect to move to multiple locations as the megaload progresses.  Carpools depart from Third and Washington streets in Moscow at 8 pm (http://goo.gl/maps/BG4dt).

Moscow: Monday, August 11, 10 pm: Meet at Third and Washington streets outside Moscow City Hall.  Although this venue attracts too much police presence, it endures as the defacto megaload protest location.  The gargantuan load mounted the Lewiston grade and parked at Highway 95 milepost 320 at 2 am on Sunday night and will likely cross Moscow before midnight on Monday night (http://goo.gl/maps/4x0BQ).

Plummer: Wednesday, August 13, 10 pm: Converge outside the Warpath, before the Bigge megaload likely crosses Plummer at 11 pm or midnight.  Carpools from the Palouse region depart Third and Washington Streets in Moscow at 9 pm (http://goo.gl/maps/G5IV8).

Coeur d’Alene: Wednesday/Thursday, August 13-14: Come to the corner of West Linden Avenue and Lincoln Way at a time and date (early Thursday morning?) to be announced.  Carpools from the Palouse region depart Third and Washington Streets in Moscow at 9 pm on Wednesday (http://goo.gl/maps/0WWbv).

Sandpoint: Thursday, August 14, 5 pm & 10 pm: Assemble at 5 pm for a community meeting in Sandpoint Library rooms 103 and 104, and at 10 pm outside the Conoco gas station on East Superior Street, before the Calumet megaload crosses the Long Bridge at 11 pm, midnight, or later (http://goo.gl/maps/ryQLa).

Hope: Friday, August 15, 6 pm & Sunday, August 17, 9 pm: Bring your friends, family, and protest signs and gather at 6 pm on Friday for a community meeting in the upstairs room of the Old Ice House Pizzeria, 140 West Main Street in Hope, and at 9 pm on Sunday outside the Old Ice House Pizzeria, to monitor and protest the last 18 miles of this Alberta tar sands/Bakken shale oil infrastructure onslaught through Idaho (http://goo.gl/maps/EMz00).

Swan Lake: Sunday, August 24, 9:30 pm: Gather by 9:30 pm at the south end of the lakeside Swan Lake Day Use Area parking lot on the west side of Montana Highway 83, about one mile northwest of the town of Swan Lake (http://goo.gl/maps/zt3nf) [3].  Carpools depart from the east side of the Albertson’s parking lot, 1003 East Broadway Street in Missoula, after 7:30 pm (http://goo.gl/maps/XARbQ).  Expect to monitor the convoy and move to multiple protest locations, such as Condon and Seeley Lake, as the megaload progresses.

Clearwater Junction: Monday, August 25, 9:30 pm: Meet at 9:30 pm at the Clearwater Rest Area at the Clearwater Junction of Montana Highway 200 milepost 32 and Montana Highway 83 (http://goo.gl/maps/TKy7N) [4].  Carpools depart from the east side of the Albertson’s parking lot, 1003 East Broadway Street in Missoula, after 8:30 pm (http://goo.gl/maps/XARbQ).  Anticipate additional megaload monitoring along Highway 200 and protests in Lincoln and other places along the route.

Lincoln & Great Falls: Tuesday, August 26, 9 pm: Arrive by 9 pm at the Aspen Grove Campground about six miles east of Lincoln on a short access road off the south side of Montana Highway 200 (http://goo.gl/maps/8SqDf) [5].  Carpools depart from the east side of the Albertson’s parking lot, 1003 East Broadway Street in Missoula, after 7:30 pm (http://goo.gl/maps/XARbQ).  Monitors will follow the load and protest its arrival at the Great Falls Calumet refinery during the to-be-announced early morning hours of Wednesday, August 27 (http://goo.gl/maps/42HfG).

After eight anxious months and the usual last-minute fiasco to deter legal and physical resistance, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) issued a permit for Bigge Crane and Rigging Company early on Friday afternoon, August 8 [1].  The San Leandro, California-based company plans to haul an up to 1,086,000-pound piece of Great Falls, Montana, refinery equipment across northern Idaho over four to five nights, after departing the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Washington, at 10 pm on Sunday, August 10.  The bottom, lightest, one-foot wider section of a hydrocracker, which would assist in tripling tar sands production at the Montana Refining Company owned by Calumet Specialty Products Partners, measures 311 feet long, 21 feet wide, and 16 feet, 8 inches high and weighs 926,000 pounds with interconnected trailers and trucks, when additional pull and push trucks are not powering the transport [2].  Accompanied by Idaho State Police, flaggers, and pilot vehicles every night between 10 pm and 5:30 am, the heaviest and longest shipment to (n)ever cross the region can move at speeds between 5 and 35 miles per hour.  It would enter Idaho from the eastern Washington port on Idaho Highway 128, and move north on U.S. Highway 95 up the Lewiston grade, avoiding the bridge over U.S. Highway 195 by briefly sidetracking under the bridge into Washington (with a permit?) and back into Idaho against off-ramp traffic.  After journeying through Moscow, Plummer, and Coeur d’Alene and crossing the two-mile Long Bridge to Sandpoint, the megaload would travel east to Montana on Idaho Highway 200, the federally designated Pend Oreille Scenic Byway with possible weight restrictions and load limits for the lake shore road partially built on fill material [3].  By Idaho law throughout the trip, the convoy must limit the traffic delays of two-lane blockage to 15 minutes, by notifying the transport driver of approaching and trailing vehicles and pulling off the roadway to let them pass.

In less than a Friday hour after ITD’s announcement, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) responded to three ITD offices, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in Boise, and the Idaho Attorney General, alerting them to a formal WIRT petition filed by the 5 pm MDT close of the business day.  The petition requests an immediate stay and reconsideration of ITD’s permit issuance to Bigge only days before it hauls its oversize shipment across northern Idaho [4-6].  By describing the many potential hazards to public safety, convenience, and road and bridge infrastructure that this megaload would impose, the petition outlines ITD’s subsequent violations of the U.S. Fourteenth Amendment and Idaho rules governing open public meetings, overlegal permits, and ITD operating objectives, as explained by Moscow community radio comprehensive coverage and a WIRT interview about the Calumet refinery megaload saga [7].  Wild Idaho Rising Tide did not receive explicitly requested acknowledgement of WIRT petition receipt from ITD, FHWA, and the attorney general on Friday, although the biggest ever megaload could roll before normal ITD business hours on Monday.  But a local reporter noted that, “ITD spokesman Adam Rush said his agency was prepared to receive a petition seeking to halt the shipment and that the matter would be considered over the weekend, before the shipment could legally leave the Port of Wilma…  If the WIRT petition isn’t granted, the megaload shipment could pass through Moscow late Sunday or early Monday” [8].  Whether any state officials bother to notify the petitioning group of their decision or just continue to dismiss it as collateral damage on the roadside to ruin remains uncertain.

Monitor & Protest!

About a year ago, Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) friends and allies passionately blocked and incessantly dogged a huge evaporator all along Highway 12 east of Lewiston during four intense nights, as it trespassed through their homelands to desecrate other indigenous territories in Alberta.  WIRT is honored to again stand shoulder-to-shoulder with tribal allies, as people gather to stop this latest megaload and thus safeguard the next seven generations in 1855 Nez Perce treaty lands, the Coeur d’Alene Reservation, and across beautiful northern Idaho, demonstrating again to the oil and gas industry that their fossil fuel-facilitating loads will encounter vigilant uprisings and covert creativity, with plenty of surprises for interlopers in every regional sacrifice zone.  Climate chaos survival offers no alternatives except to fight this incursion: We intend to take this to the streets every night from the port to the refinery!  Without ITD response to the formal WIRT petition for a megaload permit stay and reconsideration, but with ongoing hopes for legal remedies, Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allies believe that the million-plus-pound Calumet transport may illegally commence travel on Sunday night.  If it does, please join us and allied tribal, climate, and conservation activists in the streets, highways, and elsewhere, for week-long protesting and monitoring activities in Clarkston/Lewiston, Moscow, Plummer, Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, and Hope and/or Clark Fork.

Please scrutinize the most pertinent of over 100 ITD public records about this Highway 95/200 transport, which WIRT received and posted on July 31, especially Bigge’s Idaho route and transportation plans with maps, photos, and schedules [9].  Because the megaload travel itinerary and thus WIRT event arrangements will fluctuate nightly, stay informed and share constant WIRT updates of schedule and location changes, available through the WIRT facebook, website, and email event announcements and alerts.  Bring your friends and family to demonstrations and come prepared with protest signs, banners, chants, musical instruments, and voices, take plenty of videos and photos, and support any possible blockades that may arise, either actively or from the sidelines.  Each anti-megaload action in public places will begin with a circle gathering and emergency planning session.  Anticipate police intimidation but strong solidarity and experience among regional monitors, protestors, and organizers.  Please uphold and ensure everyone’s safety, civility, and sanity during all megaload observations, documentations, and demonstrations of civil disobedience.  Remember that we stand against this invasion, not to revel in the behemoth advancing through meek displays of sovereignty.  Ideally, we will together directly and eventually stop this onslaught, which obviously will not happen in places where protesters willingly surround themselves with police.  Additional protests may occur in locations not described in this announcement, and WIRT may host community potluck meetings in several towns along the route.  Even if you cannot participate on-site or on the road, please contribute to the legal expenses of environmental warriors facing arrest and to WIRT’s ongoing work to stop dirty energy in Idaho, in the streets and the courts [10].  Please call 208-301-8039 to find out how you can help or offer suggestions of places to meet and/or protest.  WIRT is grateful for every heart that beats with courage against this rampage and every injustice!

Megaload Rail Transports

In late July, as government and industry remained typically mute about controversial topics and potential confrontational situations such as megaload transports, WIRT circulated three media releases about ever changing Port of Wilma circumstances over eight days.  Perhaps catalyzed by this information influx, regional journalists undertook investigations and overdue articles about the two missing hydrocracker parts, last seen on July 15, while on-the-ground activists scouted and monitored the situation [11].  Confirming May newspaper articles, a Calumet refinery official suspiciously said that the two heavier, narrower loads were going by rail in the future, never disclosing whether they would or had already departed the port by rail via the Great Northwest Railroad (GRNW), a subsidiary of Watco Transportation Services, or by barge to downriver rail ports [12].  Some observers speculated that the two modules remained in the nearby warehouse, where Omega Morgan has previously housed a giant evaporator.  Relentless WIRT activists and curious allies nonetheless cost this fossil fuel production expansion project a security guard and plenty of angst.

Meanwhile on July 29, WIRT initially learned from allies that the remaining Calumet megaload at the Port of Wilma could start moving on Sunday or Monday, August 3 or 4.  As we continued to search for information, via many comrades calling various officials, scouts saw workers put it on trailers, and we heard by the end of the week that Bigge would not launch its colossus until late during this last week or “early on August 11,” possibly Sunday night [13, 14].  Eventually, WIRT received a response to a phone message left with the Lewiston ITD office, questioning the timing and transport method of the three Calumet loads’ departures.  District 2 operations engineer Doral Hoff confirmed a possible Sunday night, August 10, highway megaload launch, after ITD replaced two Highway 95 culverts north of Moscow.  He said that the two other hydrocracker parts, with narrower dimensions that allowed rail transport, traveled downriver by train.  The typically evasive, standard protocol manner of ITD seemed to lead to inconclusive information, so a regional reporter contacted the Port of Wilma, and Mitch Dempke stated that the two larger megaloads left the port approximately three weeks ago, about the time that observers saw them on short, 12-axle trailers, before discovering their absence on July 19.

But transportation of two Calumet hydrocracker sections along the Snake River via rail seems unlikely, because the track capacity from the Port of Wilma to Ayers Junction is only 286,000 pounds, perhaps suggesting that the weakest link in the track’s infrastructure would endure unacceptable risks under heavier loads.  The GRNW tracks probably could not accommodate loads as heavy as the two pieces of the Calumet hydrocracker, weighing 669,593 and 572,871 pounds respectively.  A Schnabel train convoy could add another million pounds [15].  These shipments could still be delayed and/or moving across Washington, Idaho, and Montana to the Great Falls tar sands refinery, so we urge all regional residents to watch for a rusty pressure vessel traveling by train, with its weight distributed over the dozens of axles of a Schnabel rail car.

Background

WIRT and allies welcome growing opposition to the purveyors of new fossil fuel industrial infrastructure, as we push for more people to understand the climate implications of these monstrosities, beyond just “not in my backyard” inconvenience concerns.  As more Earth residents struggle for clean air to breath, clean water to drink, and clean land for wildlife and food, the facts that climate scientists have been wielding for decades, telling us that the world will soon become unrecognizable to its survivors, are becoming more apparent.  As long as Big Oil and extreme energy corporations spend unlimited and unreported funds attempting to bribe citizen representatives and instill in Americans fears of personal loss of jobs, homes, investments, or status, we all are captives to the Earth’s and our own destruction.  But actually witnessing megaloads up close can often help put all of these issues in perspective.  We are counting on all of you, our dearest comrades, to bring your appreciated efforts to the often scary and lonely megaload frontlines of Idaho sacrifice zones, trusting that all of us together will increasingly resist tar sands and shale oil infrastructure from whatever life circumstances and for whatever reasons we can.  Plenty of opportunities urge you to responsibly rise up against extreme energy breaches of basic human rights to healthful resources: Will you heed these calls to action?

Since April 2010, the four-state regional community has worked to block, through seven court cases, 70 arrests/citations, and well over 100 protests, two-lane wide transports weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds and carrying infrastructure components that build Alberta tar sands mining and refining facilities.  The saga of the stranded Calumet hydrocracker megaloads has entailed many changes of plans, players, and opponents.  But its bears a strategically important relationship to the fossil fuel industry’s extraction agenda for both the Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil industrial sacrifice zones [16].  Big Oil plans at least ten new 20,000-barrels-per-day (bbl/day) greenfield refineries, the first in the U.S. since 1976, for feed stock from the Bakken shale formation and Williston Basin in the North Dakota/Montana region, where developers have drilled 46,000 wells and disturbed 230,000 acres since 2000, inflicting a scale of destruction second only to Albertageddon.  All of these refineries would produce diesel for Bakken drilling rigs, trucks, trains, and machinery, naphtha diluent to thin Alberta tar sands enough to flow through pipelines, and atmospheric tower bottoms (ATBs), the sludge byproduct of conventional refining.  Built of pre-fabricated modular components, possibly transported by rail or road through Idaho in the future, all of these proposed refineries depend on a facility that can further process the leftover ATBs – the hydrocracker unit at the center of Calumet’s Montana Refining Company expansion in Great Falls, with the capacity to convert 25,000 bbl/day of ATBs into more diesel and diluent.  Another five planned, similar refineries would process Bakken crude in stabilizers that remove the explosive gases that prompt oil train explosions but that also qualify this crude oil as a refined product that circumvents the U.S. crude oil export ban.

[1] Megaload Headed This Way Sunday (August 8, 2014 Spokesman-Review)

[2] Calumet Hydrocracker Section Dimensions (August 8, 2014 Herb Goodwin)

[3] State Highway 200 (Idaho Transportation Department)

[4] Petition Requesting a Stay and Reconsideration of Permit Issuance (August 8, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[5] Megaload Headed for North Idaho (August 9, 2014 Coeur d’Alene Press)

[6] Mega-Loads Taking Longer Than Expected to Reach Idaho Panhandle (August 9, 2014 Boise Weekly)

[7] Evening Report – Calumet Load (August 8, 2014 KRFP, between 19:20 and 5:41 LoFi)

[8] Moscow Group Concerned over Planned Megaload Transport (August 8, 2014 Moscow-Pullman Daily News)

[9] ITD Highway 95 and 200 Megaload Public Records 7-31-14 (July 31, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[10] Support WIRT (Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[11] Refinery Says Megaloads to Go by Rail (July 25, 2014 Lewiston Tribune)

[12] Watco Companies Railroads Track Capacity Maps: Great Northwest Railroad (Watco Companies)

[13] Evening Report – NPC Forest Chief Rick Brazell (July 31, 2014 KRFP, between 19:55 and 14:35 LoFi)

[14] Evening Report – Tar Sands (August 1, 2014 KRFP, between 28:50 and 25:23 LoFi)

[15] Rail Pictures (RailPictures.net)

[16] The Emerging Threat from the Bakken and the Role of the Calumet Hydrocracker (August 8, 2014 Herb Goodwin)

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2 thoughts on “Biggest Megaload Never!

  1. Pingback: Sunday Night Megaload Protest Around Idaho Highway 200 | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  2. Pingback: The Bunny Alliance

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