Idaho says Exxon can send 'test' megaload over U.S. 12 to Canada

Idaho says Exxon can send 'test' megaload over U.S. 12 to Canada

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BOISE, Idaho - The Idaho Transportation Department issued a permit Monday for Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil to transport a test load of oversized modules bound for the Kearl Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta, beginning Feb. 22.

The department also began a contested case hearing process to allow opponents of the shipments to present evidence and testimony on the estimated 200 additional loads proposed to travel U.S. 12 from Lewiston to the Montana border at Lolo Pass.

Montana approved an environmental assessment for its portion of the route last week.

The test load permitted in Idaho will assist Imperial/Exxon in validating planning for potential future loads. The load is 24 feet wide, 30 feet high, 208 feet long and weighs approximately 508,000 pounds.

Alan Frew, Idaho Transportation Department Motor Vehicle administrator, issued the memorandum of decision that states Imperial/Exxon's request for additional permits complies with all requirements and should be granted. The decision allows the hearing process to begin.

"My decision is based upon my review and consideration of all relevant documents received by ITD as part of the permit process, including the public comments received to date in regards to the permits request," Frew wrote.

ITD Director Brian W. Ness appointed Boise attorney Merlyn Clark as the hearing officer for the Imperial/Exxon contested case hearing. Clark was also the hearing officer for the contested case involving four ConocoPhillips oversized loads. The first of the Conoco loads reached Montana early Saturday. Transport of the second is expected to begin this week, though no definite date has been announced.

No timeline for the contested case hearing for the Canadian-bound test module has been set.

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The small community in northern Montana has a population of about 4,800 but accounts for three-fifths of the state's five total deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus

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