Monday, November 14, 2011

Current Events

A lot has happened in the past month related to Megaloads and Highway 12. Imperial/Exxon will not, for the time being, pursue any more permits for megaloads to travel on U.S.12.
Read the storyand watch the video "Toxic Alberta" on Huff Post. Read the story at the Oregonian.

While this is good news for residents & travelers, the fact that Imperial still speaks of wanting in the future to use U.S.12 and that other companies, too, want to turn this route into a permanent high and wide corridor is unsettling. Especially in the face of the numerous risks these types of loads pose to the residents of the local communities they pass through.

Here are a few stories about recent problems with megaloads:
1.) A woman being rushed to the emergency room is delayed by megaloads--Megaloads; The long night, by Alex Sakariassen, Missoula Independent. Augusta residents Lorna and Pete Scott took to Highway 287 shortly after midnight on Oct. 6. Lorna's mother was suffering an apparent heart attack. The family decided to drive her to the Teton Medical Center, in Choteau. But the normally 25-minute drive lasted nearly an hour—due to an oversized industrial shipment..."There was nothing we could do," Lorna says. "We couldn't see a patrol car. We could see nothing but flashing lights, and many of them, in front of us."
... the Scotts discovered it was an oversized load. It belonged to Nickel Bros., a Washington-based company transporting machinery through Montana along the same route proposed for industrial shipment by Exxon Mobil subsidiary Imperial Oil.... Scott says she saw no flaggers...

Her incident was an isolated one, but it does underscore the public safety concerns voiced by megaload detractors over a year ago, when Imperial Oil first announced its Kearl Module Transportation Project. MDT has repeatedly stated that turnouts would be constructed to allow the megaloads to comply with state law, which forbids traffic delays of more than 10 minutes. However, the turnouts were proposed as part of Imperial Oil's beleaguered KMTP and have yet to be constructed between Augusta and Choteau.... Read more.

2.) Injury accident results from confusion over megaload transportation--Two injured in U.S.95 collision, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, 11/10/11Two Idaho men were released from the hospital following a rear-end collision Tuesday night near Viola on U.S. Highway 95 that law enforcement claims occurred when one driver stopped to talk with a flagger awaiting Imperial Oil shipments bound for the Idaho/Montana border.
.... Shawn Dewitt, 36, of Princeton, stopped his vehicle on the highway to investigate flashing lights belonging to a flagger awaiting three shipments of refinery equipment and ask how he should proceed.
Idaho State Police Capt. Lonnie Richardson said Dewitt voluntarily stopped to talk to the flagger around 11 p.m., and had not been requested to do so. Dewitt's vehicle was then struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Frank Bybee, 33, of Desmet...
Subcribers, read more.

If you'd like to see for yourself how confusing these megaload shipments are please watch this video.

One of the major concerns local residents have about megaloads is accidents. Highway 12 is a notoriously dangerous highway with a long history of semi-truck accidents, many causing major spills into the Wild & Scenic Lochsa River. The most recent one took place on Saturday.

Fuel tanker crashes on Highway 12, by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 11/13/11LOWELL - A multi-agency response team worked to mop up a fuel spill along U.S. Highway 12 and the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River Corridor following a one- vehicle traffic accident Saturday.... about 10 miles east of Wilderness Gateway Campground... No fuel was detected in the river....
... driver Marco D. Williamson of Florence, Mont., failed to negotiate a curve.... drifted left, over corrected and the pup trailer whipped across the snow covered road and hit the guard rail ... before coming to rest on its side in the ... ditch.... [carrying] 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 1,700 gallons of gasoline. HazMat workers pumped some... gasoline out of the wrecked trailer .... "We don't know how much diesel is out" ... "We are offloading gasoline so all 1,700 gallons are not on the ground."...
Officials from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Clearwater National Forest, Idaho Transportation Department, Nez Perce Tribe and a private HazMat company were on hand...
The Lochsa River is a blue-ribbon cutthroat trout stream and home to protected bull trout, wild steelhead and chinook salmon...
The highway along Lochsa-Middle Fork Clearwater...has been the location of several large fuel spills. Last year, ...a fuel tanker spilled 7,500 gallons of diesel.... In 2005, a three-vehicle accident spilled 1,600 gallons of diesel... Crashes in 2002 and 2003 each spilled thousands of gallons. In 2003, a tanker crashed and spilled 6,300 gallons.... A year earlier, a tanker crash spilled an estimated 6,000 gallons of diesel directly into the Clearwater River near Syringa. Several downriver communities temporarily halted pumping drinking water from the river until the escaped fuel had dissipated. Subscribers, read more photo taken by Vickie Garcia & Walt Bailey