Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weather Delays Mega-loads; Opponents File New Petition

Posted By on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 9:13 AM

The second of four ConocoPhillips mega-loads was expected to be in Montana by now. Exxon/Mobile was expected to send a test load of its own across U.S. Highway 12 by now. But mother nature had other plans.

Weather has delayed the Conoco rig for five nights, stranding the shipment just outside of Kooskia in north central Idaho. The forecast calls for more snow tonight and tomorrow. Meanwhile, Exxon's test load has been delayed until at least March 7. While Conoco has been granted permission by the Idaho Transportation Department to send four giant shipments over to its Billings, Mont., refinery, Exxon is hoping to send more than 200 of its own loads up to the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta, Canada.

ExxonMobil Mega-loads at Port of Lewiston
  • ExxonMobil Mega-loads at Port of Lewiston

Opponents of the mega-loads have filed a formal petition with ITD, requesting a contested case hearing. Intervenors want to take a bit of a different tack with the Exxon loads.

"Exxon is actually reducing their loads," said Janice Inghram, one of the opponents.

In the last few weeks, it has been learned that at least 60 Exxon shipments have been "broken down" into a smaller size to be sent on an alternate route up through northern Washington, across Idaho's panhandle into Montana and up to Alberta.

The intervenors' petition was delivered to ITD Wednesday. Transportation department attorneys are expected to review the request today.

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