BOISE -- Controversial shipments of over-sized refinery equipment, called "megaloads," could soon be on their way through eastern Oregon and southern Idaho. Those who protested similar shipments in northern Idaho say they pose a big danger to the environment and other motorists. But, those with the Idaho Transportation Department say these loads are totally safe.
They could start shipping the first megaload as early as Sunday. Shipper Omega Morgan is transporting over-sized loads of oil refinery equipment from the Port of Umatilla in Oregon to Canada.
Why are they going through southern Idaho? It has to do with the size of the loads, court injunctions, and the roads.
They can't take these loads on the interstate for long stretches because they won't clear the overpasses. So they have to transport them on highways like they did for some shipments up north on Highway 12, until a judge blocked the practice there a few months ago. That was after numerous protests amid concerns that the material they were hauling could spill into the river or they could damage roads.
But, Adam Rush with the Idaho Transportation Department, says there are no hazardous materials in this load, just equipment. Also, he hasn't had any indication that a judge would step in to stop these shipments.
While this first shipment is huge (376 feet long and weighing 901,000 pounds), Rush says it's not dangerous. "The loads are completely safe, there's a lot of research and preparation and work that goes into each equipment shipment."
If approved, that route would go through Vale and Nyssa and into Homedale on Highway 19. It would then go through the southern Treasure Valley through the Murphy area, up through Gooding, then hook up with Highway 93 to leave Idaho into Montana.
There are plans for three total shipments. If approved, the first would be shipped Sunday night and next week. The other two would be next month.