Nerves are fraying at a contested case hearing on mega-loads. A special hearing officer is hearing testimony on whether the Idaho Transportation Department can give the go-ahead to ConocoPhillips to move four huge coke drums across north central Idaho.
Alan Frew, 25-year veteran with ITD has spent hours in the hot-seat, testifying how his agency has painstakingly reviewed the permit process. But Laird Lucas, of Advocates of the West, representing Idaho citizens against the mega-loads, rose to the challenge.
"We don't think there's a strong likelihood that one of these loads would end up in the [Clearwater] river," said Frew. "There's not even a one-in-a-million chance. We have a lot of safety redundancies."
"Well, of course, we heard the same thing from BP about drilling oil in the Gulf," said Laird.
Boise's Grove Hotel ballroom erupted into catcalls while attorneys for ITD and Conoco objected. Nearly 50 Conoco employees have trekked from their Billings, Mont., plant to voice their support of the mega-loads. Rather than working as electricians or pipe fitters
Laird has tried to enter into the record photographs documenting mega-load accidents from across the continent, but the hearing officer denied each attempt.