Resist Andeavor/Tesoro Anacortes Refinery Megaloads!

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists learned on Wednesday, October 4, that Andeavor (formerly Tesoro) and its hauler Mammoet will soon transport nine massive, prefabricated, refinery upgrading components from the Port of Anacortes to March Point, Washington [1-3].  These “module movements” started rolling through Anacortes between Monday, October 2, and Thursday, October 5, off-loaded at the port and transfered multiple times during daylight hours (8 am to 5 pm) to a staging area at R Avenue and Ninth Street in Anacortes.  For their part in this scheme, Washington Department of Transportation crews did some overnight work on Wednesday-Thursday, October 4 and 5, requiring single lane closures and brief traffic holds while preparing to swing some intersection signal lights out of the path of the behemoths.  The first three “superloads” measure more than 30 feet wide and high and 200-plus feet long, but the last six cargos are smaller.

Mammoet is moving only one combination of tractor pull and push trucks, trailers, and pieces of refinery equipment per night during five early morning hours (midnight to 5 am), eastbound along sections of road successively closed then reopened to all regular traffic.  The oversized units will each travel 6.5 miles over minimal hills on Friday night, October 6-7, through Sunday morning, October 15.  During the first hour (midnight to 1 am), they will disrupt R Avenue between the staging area and Washington Highway 20, and according to posted warning signs, impede Highway 20 to March Point Road between 1 and 2:30 am, March Point Road to the North Texas Road intersection between 2 and 3:30 am, and that intersection to the North Texas gate and into the refinery between 3:30 and 4:30 am.  Mammoet must safely cover each segment of the route, from the staging area to its destination, during the designated time slots, or abandon its attempt for the night.

Andeavor claims that, “as part of our Clean Products Upgrade Project, the new modules will enable the refinery to further reduce the sulfur content of its transportation fuels, and meet the new Federal Tier 3 standards to reduce emissions.”  But WIRT encountered other likely deceptive, oil company propaganda concerning sulfur when the last three mining and refining megaloads crossed Idaho and Montana to a Great Falls tar sands refinery in fall 2014.  We believe that these megaloads upgrading the Andeavor refinery at March Point could expand its capacity to process Canadian tar sands, and thus impose myriad harms and forestall transitions to clean, alternative energy sources:

The Montana Refining Company destination of these reactor vessels would use the three pieces of a hydrocracker “to create ultra-low-sulfur diesel to meet EPA Clean Air [Act] standards.”…However, WIRT research has disclosed and widely publicized that these colossal megaloads would triple the conversion of 10,000 barrels per day of Canadian heavy bitumen (tar sands) crude into Rockies transportation fuels.  This crude oil arrives via pipelines and rail cars…Refinery emissions of under-regulated, toxic sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and related particulate matter from raw, typically high-sulfur tar sands results in the acidified rain and aquatic and terrestrial environments and the respiratory, cardiovascular, cancer, and other health risks and impacts of increasing U.S. production of fossil fuels from bitumen blends.  As new and upgraded tar sands and shale oil refineries proliferate,…the Northwest region can expect and resist more of these megaloads and their anticipated, significant impacts on air quality, human and environmental health, and climate stability, both in transit and at their destinations [4].

Coincidentally or not, a coalition named Protectors of the Salish Sea, including 350 Seattle, Mosquito Fleet, Greenpeace USA, and Red Line Salish Sea, are organizing, supporting, and hosting the public event Oil Free Salish Sea – March Point Rally from 11 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday, October 7, a mere six hours after the first, presumed, tar sands megaload crushes their March Point Road parade route near the Shell and Andeavor refineries [5].  The action invites “canoe families, kayaktivists, bike activists, and all people who love the Salish Sea” to join the rally and walk, ride, paddle, sing, pray, and “educate ourselves about the human and environmental devastation fossil fuel brings to our land and water.”  Tribal canoes, kayaks, and boats will launch, and youth, adult, elder, indigenous, and guest participants and speakers will converge, for family friendly displays of solidarity with (also coincidentally timed) nine days of action on October 2 to 15, during court hearings brought by four First Nations against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline that would deliver almost one million barrels of tar sands oil per day to the March Point refineries that Andeavor is already planning and re-tooling with these megaloads to receive and thus further increase toxic pollution.  Are these participants aware of and committed to confronting this fossil fuel infrastructure expansion and transportation onslaught happening among their ceremonies?

Thanks to WIRT megaloads resistance activist Herb Goodwin, for notifying region-wide, Cascadian comrades and for riskily scouting, ground-truthing, and capturing photos around the perimeter of the superloads staging area security fence, while apparently surveilled by a drone [6].  WIRT is developing and distributing this and possible, upcoming alerts, in hopes that independent, west-side organizers and groups can locally meet and mobilize opposition to these megaloads.  As WIRT has often observed and experienced over seven years of direct actions, unless we are also defending our frontlines and communities at home, solidarity is little more than symbolic, if not futile.

[1] PSA HWY 20 Signage – Superloads Rolling through Anacortes, City of Anacortes, Washington

[2] Some @Andeavor Superloads are Starting to Move into #Anacortes…, WSDOT North Traffic on Twitter

[3] Module Movements at the Anacortes Refinery, Andeavor

[4] Sunday, August 10, Launch & Opposition to Bigge-Haul​ed Calumet Megaload, August 7, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[5] Oil Free Salish Sea – March Point Rally, Protectors of the Salish Sea

[6] Andeavor Anacortes Refinery Megaloads, October 5, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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