Megaloads to begin arriving in Lewiston

First eight of 200 loads will be rolled onto dock starting on Thursday morning

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The first eight of more than 200 megaloads Imperial Oil wants to ship across Idaho on U.S. Highway 12 will be arriving at the Port of Lewiston late this evening.

Two barges will bring the cargo to the Port of Lewiston, where it will be rolled onto the dock starting on Thursday morning, said David Doeringsfeld, manager of the Port of Lewiston.

Preparations for its arrival include creating a secure perimeter around the dock where no members of the public will be permitted.

The Korean-made equipment reached the Port of Vancouver on Oct. 4 and is now being taken up the Columbia and Snake rivers on its way to the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada.

Imperial Oil has no assurances it will be able to complete the trip. Idaho’s Supreme Court has yet to issue an opinion in a case that challenged permits the Idaho Transportation Department issued for four megaloads heading to a ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings, Mont.

Like the majority of Imperial Oil’s loads, they will block two lanes of traffic, pulling over every 15 minutes as they travel at night. “I guess they load up and go back down the river if this doesn’t turn out right,” Port Commissioner Terry Kolb said.

The port upped its estimate about the revenue it anticipates receiving for its role in handling Imperial Oil’s cargo. It had $100,000 of revenue in its budget, but now it’s anticipating anywhere from about $500,000 to $650,000 for 200 loads, Doeringsfeld said.

Doeringsfeld declined to say how much of that projection is for security, a service that will be a pass-through expense for the port. Mammoet, a company hired by Imperial Oil to haul the loads, will pay the bills the port submits from a subcontractor it hired.

In a separate development, Keith Allred, a Democrat who’s running for governor, went on record opposing megaloads.

“In an Allred administration, these trucks wouldn’t get permits,” Allred said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday. “There are simply not good enough answers to the questions Idaho citizens have raised about these shipments.”

His opponent, C.L. (Butch) Otter, a Republican, was an early backer. Otter sent the Port of Lewiston a letter in 2009 pledging the state’s “support and cooperation.”

Allred’s opposition comes less than a week after the possibility surfaced of a third company, Harvest Energy Co., shipping 40 to 60 megaloads on Highway 12 to the Alberta oil sands region. The company met with ITD in Lewiston and discussed permit requirements.

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