ONTARIO, Ore. – A 450-ton shipment of oil refinery equipment making its way slowly across Eastern Oregon has arrived at John Day and is expected to be near the Idaho border Wednesday.
The so-called megaload travels at about 35 mph and blocks highways. It’s allowed to move only at night and has to stop at intervals to allow traffic to pass. Protests and bad weather also have delayed it.
The equipment is headed for the Canadian tar sands oil development via Idaho and Montana.
The water purification equipment went by barge from Portland, where it was fabricated, to the Port of Umatilla. There, it was loaded onto a transport rig and headed south, mostly on U.S. 395, to John Day.
The Ontario Argus Observer reported Monday (http://bit.ly/1hXePht ) that officials expect it at Vale Wednesday morning.
The load is the first of three scheduled shipments through Eastern Oregon.
Near the Idaho border, residents have objected to the megaload’s use of a 9-mile stretch of county road known as Clark Boulevard that will take the load around Nyssa, saying they were worried about its size and the potential for damage.
“There are just a lot of questions that weren’t asked and sure weren’t answered,” said Ontario resident Bob Moore, one of many who attended public meetings about the shipments.
Wes Allison, a supervisor for the Nyssa Rural Road District, said the state agency doesn’t have authority to approve megaload travel on Clark Boulevard, but local authorities aren’t going to block it.
“… Our roadways are public roadways, and to deny someone access to that, you’d have to have reason. You can’t just pick and choose who you’re going to let drive on the roads,” he said. “We think they’ve addressed our concerns about the weight limitations. There’s plenty of people in the community who are concerned about it but I don’t know that I can just tell them no and not have a good, solid reason to do that.”
Information from: Argus Observer, http://www.argusobserver.com