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Controversy Follows 'Megaloads' Through Oregon-Idaho Route

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
File photo of a megaload parked along Idaho’s Highway 12. A federal judge blocked the route to further megaload traffic until the Forest Service reviews the impact to a wild and scenic corridor. ";

The first of three hulking pieces of oil equipment, known as “megaloads,” is expected to start its slow, winding journey through eastern Oregon Monday.

It's taking a circuitous detour to avoid an Idaho route that ended in a court injunction. But opponents hope to keep controversy hot on the tail of the Oregon shipments.

The massive truck is going from the Port of Umatilla to the border town of Homedale, Idaho. In all, it’s two lanes wide and 380 feet long, so the load has to travel by night and pull over every five to seven miles to let cars go by.

Ultimately, it's headed to the oil sands of Alberta, Canada. Some of the same groups that have criticized trains transporting oil and coal through the Northwest are now organizing against the megaloads in Oregon.

It’s not just about this specific route, says Kayla Godowa-Tufti, an activist and member of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs.

“These vessels that are being transported to Canada are directly contributing to enormous amounts of CO2 emissions.”

Godowa-Tufti says the load also passes by sensitive salmon restoration areas near Prairie City, Oregon.

A spokeswoman for the Hillsboro-based shipper Omega Morgan says no vegetation is being altered along the route and the company is working closely with local officials to ensure a smooth trip.

The so-called “megaload” won’t travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.