Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Exxon Fails First Test

Local citizens who rely on Highway 12 were told not to worry when they brought up their concerns to Exxon representatives at last summers open house. They were assured by the Kearl Oil Project spokesmen that Mammoet was the best shipper in the business. When asked about the specifics of the road and how these megaloads would handle things like rock faces, ice, landslides, soft shoulders, etc. the representatives seemed unfamiliar with the nature of Highway 12 and unable to give adequate answers. Instead of taking the concerns of local citizens seriously Exxon spent time and money on a PR campaign to make it look like this project would benefit the local economy while ignoring the many ways this transportation project could hurt the area.

Now, almost a year later, on the first night of the Exxon's Test Validation Module there were problems. The Exxon megaload hit a guy wire that knocked the power out to 1,300 homes and shut the highway down for over an hour.

ITD has asked the shipper, Mammoet, to address the problems from last night before they continue their journey. I would like to ask ITD to consider this transportation plan from the point of view of local residents who rely on Highway 12. Knocking out power and shutting down the highway are minor issues compared with what could happen with these loads. But even these types of minor problems could result in a life or death delay for someone racing to the hospital.

We've learned over the past year that there are other routes available to these megaload modules. We've learned they can be broken down into smaller units and shipped on alternate routes. We've also learned that these megaloads can be made on site in Alberta. So why does ITD and Exxon continue to push for an unsafe use of Highway 12?

Here's more info on Exxon's trouble Monday night:

Big rig test module hits wire, cuts power to 1,300 homes, businesses off Highway 12 by Kim Briggeman, Missoulian, 4/12/11
The big blue megaload that a Canadian oil company says will validate its plan to send many more up U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho and Montana got off to a rough start.

The 30-foot-high load hit a guy wire near Orofino, Idaho, early Tuesday, setting off a sequence of events that led to power outages in some 1,300 area homes and businesses for almost five hours, and causing the highway to be closed for an hour.

It happened around 1:45 a.m., a few hours after the big rig struck and broke off a giant tree branch near the Lewiston Rose Garden as it left town. The branch was 10 inches in diameter and 20 feet long. No traffic delays resulted.

Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil's practice load finished the night parked 13 miles short of its designated stopover near Kooskia. It appeared the plan to make the 182-mile trip to Lolo Hot Springs in Montana by Thursday morning was off....ITD ... said Mammoet would not be allowed to proceed with the move until [an investigative] report had been received and approved.

"When we're working with haulers and shippers, our approach is to have an exchange of information with them and to improve transportation plans moving forward," Rush said. "We don't like to levy fines right from the get-go or flat out deny people permits, but we do ask them to make changes.".... Read more:

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