BREAKING: Megaload Blocked at the Port of Umatilla

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from Earth First! Newswire

Two people have locked down to the first megaload truck to attempt its run through Eastern Oregon, stalling its progress indefinitely.

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Asked “How does it feel to be stopping an Omega Load,” the blockader responded: “It feels good.”

Blockaders emerged to lock down as soon as the engine started running on the 900,000 pound megaload. One blockader is locked to an axel underneath the megaload truck with a lockbox. The other, a man named Leonard who was born in Portland and is a resident of Corvallis, is locked to a ladder on the truck.

Omega Morgan workers are currently using tools to cut Leonard’s lockbox.

Traffic on main roads has not been stalled, except for the megaload, which remains stationary in the port.

A crowd of between 50 — 75 people, including Umatilla and Warm Springs tribal members, are on site cheering on the blockaders.

A group of human blockaders have moved behind police lines, stopping the megaload and chanting, “Whose land? Cayuse land!” and “No tar sands on tribal lands!”

Six police officers have swarmed around the two locked down and are attempting to find out how to remove them. Although the police have broken off communication with the police liaison, attempts are being made to reestablish contact.

This is the first of three megaloads the Hillsboro, OR, based shipping company Omega Morgan has scheduled to move through the region in December and January. Similar loads sparked major protests moving through Idaho and Montana including a blockade by the Nez Pierce tribe.

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Shana Radford

Groups organizing the protest, including chapters of Rising Tide and 350, oppose the shipments, due to the final use of the equipment in the expansion of the Alberta tar sands. This expansion would supply oil for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and scientists have called it the most destructive industrial project on earth. Umatilla Tribal Member Shana Radford said, “we have responsibility for what happens on our lands, but there are no boundaries for air, the carbon dioxide this equipment would create affects us all. The Nez Pierce tribe said no to megaloads, and so should we.”

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) have stated concerns due to the lack of consultation about the project headed through their ceded territory as required by law. The shipment would also cross Warm Springs tribal land where members have stated opposition due to lack of consultation.

Warm Springs tribal member Kayla Godowa said, “It’s our duty to protect the native salmon runs in this area. They want to make this a permanent heavy haul route without even consulting our tribes. Loads like this are unprecedented here. What if a bridge collapses? And what about the impact to native communities being destroyed by the tar sands where this equipment will end up? We can’t just look the other way while native lands and the climate are being destroyed. We have to stand up.”

Stay tuned for updates!

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