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Shipper, Forest Service At Standoff Over 'Megaloads'

Bett Haverstick
Friends of the Clearwater.

An Oregon shipping company and the U.S. Forest Service appear to be at a standoff over whether huge pieces of oil equipment will pass through a scenic stretch of Idaho. These so-called “megaloads” are ultimately headed to the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

The Forest Service says it can’t authorize shipments that are as wide as two lanes and the length of five semi-trailers to use a protected portion of Highway 12. At least, not without a lengthy review.

Yet this week, two pieces of water evaporation equipment destined for Alberta arrived at the Port of Wilma near Lewiston, Idaho. They’re now waiting at the starting point of the route.

What happens next isn’t clear. Anti-megaloads activists worry the supersize cargo will be allowed through. But wild and scenic rivers administrator Heather Berg says the Forest Service has made it clear the shipments don’t have the greenlight. And, she says, "We have not changed our position.”

Meanwhile, Hillsboro, Ore.-based shipper Omega Morgan also appears to be holding firm. It’s re-applied to the state of Idaho for Highway 12 permits.