Megaloads blocked: A victory over the tar sands obscenity

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Environmentalists in the northwestern U.S. have won an important victory, forcing Exxon to abandon plans to transport massive tar sands mining gear through environmentally sensitive areas. 

This video played a role …


A report in Industrial Fuels and Power says that opposition to the Exxon transportation plan has pushed the estimated cost of Exxon’s Kearl tar sands project up $3 Billion — before any oil has been extracted.

Imperial’s plan looks to have gone “belly up” as the final leg has been dogged with problems. Imperial thought it would easily get permits to shift the giant loads up highway 12, a backdrop of outstanding natural beauty and the setting of the film “A river runs through it.” But this has not proved to be the case and Imperial has faced a fierce battle at almost every turn. … Only one of the mega-loads, weighing around 227,000kg has made it from the Lewiston port to the Montana border where reportedly it now sits almost as big as the nearby hot springs bar and restaurant. It has taken around a year to get this far. Opposition to the mammoth oil sands loads has been fierce from environmental groups, local people and local authorities.


This news report is from KPAX TV, Missoula, Montana, August 8, 2011.

ExxonMobil shifts focus away from Highway 12 megaload route

After months of fighting with environmental groups, ExxonMobil is changing plans to ship “megaloads” of oil field equipment across Lolo Pass, opting instead to ship the equipment on Interstate highways.

Monday’s decision by ExxonMobil and Imperial marks a major development in the on-going fight over how the companies will get gear to the Tar Sands oil fields in Alberta.

ExxonMobil had hoped it would be able to ship roughly 200-loads for the Kearl Oils Sands projects from the Port of Lewiston across Idaho, over Lolo Pass and through Montana to Alberta. But the plans have been under constant attack from environmental groups in both states, as well as some residents living along U.S. 12.

In addition to fights in Idaho over the permits for the shipments, legal battles erupted in Montana, where Missoula County joined the fight to block the megaloads going over Lolo. A test shipment was stalled at Lolo Hot Springs by the lawsuit.

Since then, ExxonMobil has shipped smaller loads over Lookout Pass on I-90 without incident over the past three weeks.

Monday, the company announced it’s going to stick with that route. The shipments, which will be trimmed down to interstate size , will arrive at the Port of Pasco in the Tri-Cities, traveling north on Interstate 395, then turning east on I-90 and north on I-15 from Butte.

In a statement, the company noted it had invested $30-million in the Lewiston-Lolo route, but that “protected delays” forced the change in route so that the shipments could reach Alberta in a “timely and cost-effective manner.”

The shipments, now numbering 350, will use the new route, except for the partially dissembled gear already in Lewiston, which will be reduced in size and moved north on U.S. 95 to I-90 in Coeur d’Alene. The company does say it will continue to try and get permits for the Lewiston-to-Lolo route.

1 Comment

  • I have some issues with the video. While I think the tar sands project is grotesque, the video really fails to make the case why it’s so bad to have these loads travel on U.S. highways. By comparing a potential accident with one of these massive loads to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf is simply a terrible, inaccurate comparison. What’s the worse that can happen? One of these suckers rolls down a hill and stops? Seriously, this is the argument?

    Secondly, to my knowledge, all major steel fabricators in S. Korea are union and in the militant, Korean Confederation of Labor.

    The point about tar sands is to oppose tar sands, and developing alternatives to it.