Kamiah: Bring on the megaloads

By KATHY HEDBERG of the Tribune | 3 comments

KAMIAH – The next time megaload shipments pass through the area on their way to the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, they’re likely to get a warm reception in Kamiah.

About 30 people turned out at a Kamiah Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday night to hear Matt C. Pierce of Omega Morgan, a Portland, Ore.-based industrial shipping company, talk about plans to move 10 pressure vessels along U.S. Highway 12 through Idaho and eventually to Canada over the next seven months. The shipments would first be barged to Lewiston.

Although the proposal is still under discussion with the Idaho Transportation Department and the U.S. Forest Service, Pierce speculated the first shipment could begin as early as the end of this month.

The audience members at the chamber meeting, however, said they welcome the increased business previous shipments have brought to their town.

“We have trucks on that road all the time, and we never had a problem with you,” said Don Simmons, owner of Simmons Sanitation Co. at Kamiah. “You spent a lot of money here.”

Pierce said the pressure vessels vary in size but average about 600,000 pounds each. The shipments will be 250 feet long and 20 feet in diameter.

The vessels would be moved between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. each day, but Pierce said part of the negotiations concern being able to get the shipments through the Wild and Scenic River corridor in one day, which the company hopes to do.

Omega Morgan is a third-party shipping company that has already shipped one load through the area. It does not own the vessels, but Pierce declined to name the customer who does own them. He said the customer has asked that its name not be disclosed because of the controversy over earlier shipments by ExxonMobil. He confirmed, however, the customer is not ExxonMobil.

The customer is “a huge, multinational conglomerate doing this for the oil sands project,” Pierce said, and the audience would recognize it.

Although the shipments are slated to be moved over the next seven months, Pierce said the company will not be driving the highway when there is ice and snow on the roads.

Fred Mercer of Kamiah said there have been educational opportunities for teachers and students involved in previous megaload shipments and expressed hope the Omega Morgan project could include those opportunities as well.

“We hope to be able to contribute,” Pierce said.

Another audience member who is part of the Kamiah ambulance team asked that Omega Morgan coordinate its movement through the Clearwater Valley area with the local ambulance service.

Pierce said the Lewiston Fire Department ambulance service was used in the past, but it makes more sense to coordinate with the Kamiah team.

Hedberg may be contacted at [email protected] (208) 983-2326.