[Vision2020] Exxon-Mobil is clearly not prepared for a "module overturning incident"

nickgier at roadrunner.com nickgier at roadrunner.com
Fri Jul 9 14:46:30 PDT 2010


Below find some more hard hitting insight from activists along Highway 12:

In recent community meetings sponsored by the Idaho Transportation Department on behalf of Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil of Canada, the oil company’s solution to a possible tipover of their 344,000 lb cargo into the Clearwater or Lochsa River was straightforward. IO/EM lead spokesperson Ken Johnson said they could have a crane on site from Spokane in 10 hours. Problem solved.

The latest transportation plan IO/EM filed with ITD includes a section on Emergency Response that addresses the question of a “Module Overturning Incident,” including the overturning of the load and transporter in water. The plan recognizes the possibility of “the outside tires of the trailer exiting the road surface moving the load centre of gravity outside of the stability angle,” which the plan indicates could occur “maneuvering the curves along the highway” and thus causing the load to slide off the trailer.  The plan cites the need under such circumstances for a crane “with up to approximately 500-ton capacity.”

Here are a few details IO/EM failed to mention:

1. A mobile 500-ton capacity crane requires a surface area of over 39 feet square for the placement of its outriggers. Further, to achieve maximum lift capacity, the outriggers must be placed on outrigger floats, which extend beyond the required 39-foot pad. This space requirement eliminates the possible use of a 500-ton crane on approximately 80 percent of U.S. 12’s 174 miles in Idaho, and likely 100% of the route along the 100+ miles close to or hugging the riverbank.

2. Even with outrigger floats in place, when a 344,000 lb. load is lifted, tremendous pressure is applied to the ground by the outriggers. The required surface needs to be level and have adequate load capacity. Cranes themselves can have accidents, like tipping over, often caused by the failure of the surface upon which the crane sits. The weight of the crane itself, with the counterweight alone weighing 350,000+ pounds, becomes added to the weight of the object being lifted in determining surface pressure. Even if a 45 x 45 foot space were available, it is doubtful U.S. 12 was constructed to withstand such pressure. The road’s frequently sloughing shoulders compound this problem.

3. Crane booms have a limited radius; i.e., deflection from a vertical position. For example, a 440-ton Terex-Damag has a maximum angle of 70 degrees. A 200-foot tall boom could not reach 200 feet over a river, or even 100 feet. Further, the lifting capacity of the crane decreases as radius increases.

4. Transporting and setting up a crane is a complex task. For example, the largest mobile crane available in Spokane, a 440-ton hydraulic boom crane, requires a separate 60-ton crane on site just to lift the main boom into place. The boom itself has to be transported by a separate truck. Three more trucks are required to haul the necessary counter balance. The luffer jib and other equipment require more trucks. The assembly of the crane on site requires significant time. Even if it were possible to site a crane on a pad of sufficient size and density, and even if that crane could reach out over the Clearwater or Lochsa Rivers—neither of which is the case—getting a 500-ton crane in place and operational would likely require several days. The IO/EM transportation plan further states the company would take appropriate measures during a “recovery” period “so as to disrupt traffic as little as possible.”  The reality is, of course, there wouldn’t be any traffic because north central Idaho’s single east-west highway would be blocked. With a 22-23-foot roadbed, a river on one side and rock bluffs or steep hills on the other, U. S. 12 would be closed for days, probably weeks.

5. IO/EM lists 16 crane companies in an appendix to their transportation plan. However, 8 of them have no cranes with the needed 500-ton capacity, including Spokane. Companies with cranes this size are in locations like Edmonton, Calgary, Seattle, Portland, and Salt Lake City.

Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil recognizes the need in their transportation plan for an adequate emergency response plan to address a “module overturning incident,” including such an incident that involves water. As 1-5 above show, they have not provided such a plan. The above information in fact indicates that any such plan for U.S. 12 in Idaho would be highly suspect and could likely not be executed. At best, U. S. 12 would be closed to all traffic for days or weeks and the probability of highway and environmental damage and economic loss to the residents of Idaho would be significant, along with their inability to travel freely for everyday purposes or medical emergencies.

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