Megaload may move again Monday

Imperial Oil test module now parked west of Kamiah

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune
Friday, April 15, 2011

An Imperial Oil test module is tentatively scheduled to roll again Monday.

The megaload left the Port of Lewiston this past Monday, heading to a destination 71/2 miles inside the Montana border, in a journey supposed to take three days.

Its trip, however, was suspended by the Idaho Transportation Department after it hit an Avista support wire three miles east of Orofino early Tuesday morning, according to Avista.

A power outage followed in the Weippe and Pierce areas, according to Avista. The oversized shipment is parked at a turnout five miles west of Kamiah on U.S. Highway 12.

Imperial Oil and its hired hauler, Mammoet, are working on an investigation and a “corrective action plan,” according to an email from Adam Rush, a spokesman for ITD. “The report will help the department determine what happened, and what changes need to take place for the test shipment to move safely and efficiently.”

Asked about the possibility of penalties, Rush wrote no fines have been levied. “The transportation department generally works with transport companies to address concerns before imposing a fine. Fines are used when the transportation department is convinced a shipper was willfully negligent.”

A spokesman for Imperial Oil attributed the continued delay to “unfavorable weather conditions.” The chance of snow in the vicinity of Lolo Pass falls to 30 percent for Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service. That’s when the test module might be in that area, based on the new plan.

Imperial Oil is hoping the test module will show oversized loads of its size can be hauled safely on U.S. 12. The test module is 3 stories tall, 24 feet wide and almost 250 feet long with its trailer, push truck and pull truck. At 490,000 pounds, it’s the third-heaviest shipment to be transported on U.S. 12.

The test module is the biggest of more than 100 megaloads Imperial Oil wants to send on U.S. 12, but it has no permission to move any of the others at this time. They would carry Korean-made modules bound for a processing plant in the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada, that are shipped to the Port of Lewiston.

The requirements the test module is supposed to follow would apply to future over-legal loads. They include being accompanied by Idaho State Police, pulling over every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass and only moving between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. in Idaho.

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