Imperial Oil test module will remain parked near Kamiah for next few days

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune
April 22, 2011

A three-story-tall test module for Imperial Oil remains parked five miles west of Kamiah, unlikely to move again until early next week.

It had been scheduled to make a 33-mile journey Thursday east to near Lowell on U.S. Highway 12, starting at 1 a.m. and arriving before 5:30 a.m.

That travel has been postponed to evaluate the clearance of an Idaho County Light and Power line between the present location of the load and Kooskia, according to a news release issued Thursday by the Idaho Transportation Department. “ExxonMobil is evaluating how to safely travel under the line.”

Weather is also a concern, said Pius Rolheiser, a spokesman for Imperial Oil, which is owned mostly by ExxonMobil.

A winter weather advisory was in effect until 11 a.m. today on U.S. 12 from Lowell to Lolo Pass, with snow accumulations of as much as 7 inches predicted, according to the National Weather Service. Snow showers are in the forecast from now through Thursday, every night but Saturday.

“Doing this right is more important to us than doing it within a specific time frame,” Rolheiser said.

The test module left Lewiston on April 11 on its way to Montana in a trip expected to occur in three late-night/early-morning segments.

But 1,300 homes and businesses in the Pierce and Weippe areas were left without power for about five hours after the module hit an Avista support wire early on April 12, according to Avista. ITD then suspended the trip while it waited for a report from Mammoet, Imperial Oil’s contracted hauler.

Imperial Oil hopes the trip of the 24-foot-wide test module will show U.S. 12 is a feasible route for extra-big loads. The 490,000-pound shipment has the same weight and dimensions as the biggest of more than 100 transports Imperial Oil wants to send across Idaho on U.S. 12.

The trucks would haul Korean-made pieces of a processing plant to be assembled at the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada. They would be barged to the Port of Lewiston, where they would be transferred to trailers for the road portion of their trip. ITD has not issued any permits for those shipments.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.