GE Gives Up on a Colossal Move Through the Wilderness


By Kate Linebaugh / Wall Street Journal

General Electric Co.GE -0.23% has surrendered in a legal fight to move a giant piece of equipment through Idaho on a scenic, two-lane road and will find an alternative route to its home in the Canadian oil sands.

A federal judge barred the shipment of the space shuttle-sized equipment known as a water evaporator after the Nez Perce tribe and conservation group Idaho Rivers United sought an injunction, saying the transit through the national forest would alter the character of the area and infringe on tribal values.

The GE unit – Resources Conservation Company International – had appealed the injunction citing the potential for lost revenue, but dropped that appeal Thursday.

“Because this technology is important to our customers and to improving the environmental impact of oil recovery operations, GE instead will focus on alternative shipment options,” GE said.

Here’s a graphic of how the giant water evaporator measures up, put together by the WSJ when we covered this story last week. You can click on it for a full-sized version.

The evaporator was designed to be used in the Canadian tar sands as part of a process known as steam-assisted gravity drilling, in which steam is injected deep underground to help release oil embedded in sand.

The evaporator was as wide as a two-lane highway and, lying on its side, as tall as a two-story house. Moving it as a single structure would take two trucks—one pulling and another pushing—with 20 axles along multiple trailers stretching the load out to 250 feet. Here’s a picture on GE’s website showing one of the company’s water evaporator systems being.

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