IRU exploring legal options to stop megaload

BOISE — In direct defiance of a U.S. Forest Service order and federal court ruling, an enormous megaload began an unauthorized journey up U.S. Highway 12 in north Idaho late Monday, and Nez Perce tribal leaders were arrested while blocking the load’s passage near Lewiston.

IRU supports the tribe, which said that talking, collaboration and diplomacy had failed to stop the industrial assault of the tribal homeland. The load is headed for the Nez Perce/Clearwater National Forest, where the forest supervisor has clearly said the load may not pass.

“The companies shipping this load have disrespected the Nez Perce Tribe, the Forest Service, a federal judge and the law, and it will not stand,” said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. “Despite clear direction from the Forest Service that these loads are not authorized for movement through the Highway 12 corridor, Omega Morgan manufactured this confrontation, and IRU is exploring all of its legal options.”

The shipment that departed last night—an evaporator owned by General Electric Corp. and bound for the tar sands mines in Alberta —is 21 feet wide, 255 feet long, 23 feet high and weighs 644,000 pounds.

The Forest Service sent letters Monday to Omega Morgan and the Idaho Transportation Department making clear that the company’s megaload was not authorized to travel across national forest land or through the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River corridor. Omega Morgan will not enter the national forest, however, until it passes Kooskia at approximately milepost 74 on Highway 12. The company’s decision to truck the megaload sets up a pending confrontation when the load departs Kooskia.

“The decision by Omega Morgan and General Electric to ship this megaload is a direct affront to the Nez Perce Tribe and to the people of the United States who own these national forest lands and for whom the Wild and Scenic River corridor is protected. IRU stands firmly with the Nez Perce Tribe and others in defense of this unique and special place.”