SUMMIT MILLS – Pennsylvania State Police stopped eight commercial vehicles hauling components for windmills that had improper special hauling permits. They issued 50 citations with fines totaling more than $84,000.
Sgt. Roger Pivirotto, Somerset station commander, said the state police were not aware of the site going in along Rockdale Road near Rockwood until they received calls from residents.
Two days ago, a citizen, who used to be a truck driver, called state police and said the superloads were being moved on Mount Davis Road in Summit Township after dark, which is illegal. A state police trooper went to the wind farm site, but the tractor-trailer had already arrived.
“I contacted an individual at the site and issued a verbal warning,” Pivirotto said. “He assured me the complaints were not legitimate.”
Calls to the wind farm site for comment were not returned. Casselman WindPower LLC of Richmond, Va., filed the plans to erect seven turbines in Summit and Black townships, according to the county planning commission. The project is being constructed by PPM Energy, Oregon.
The sergeant contacted the commercial vehicle enforcement team out of Greensburg. They, along with troopers from the Somerset station, went to the area Thursday afternoon. One tractor-trailer hauling a base tower was stopped.
As troopers were inspecting the vehicle, six more vehicles arrived. Because it takes several hours to inspect each tractor-trailer, additional enforcement officers were called in from Somerset and Greensburg. While the troopers were coming here from Greensburg, they located another tractor-trailer with a similar load on Route 219.
Transport Bellemare International Inc., Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada, owns all eight vehicles.
They had had improper permits that were confiscated, Pivirotto said. They were overweight, over width, over height and had numerous out-of-service violations. They were not being escorted by state police as required for superloads. Fifty citations were issued. The fines total $84,295, not including court costs.
“They stopped the first vehicle between 2 and 3 p.m., and it took until midnight to finish,” the sergeant said. “They had to wait until daybreak to allow them to go. Troopers escorted them one-by-one to the site. There are stringent laws about superloads because that’s hundreds of thousands of pounds. If that load should fall off, or if someone else was traveling at night and didn’t see it coming, it would be a disaster. It’s absolutely a safety issue. That’s why superloads require police to escort them to warn people. Oversize loads do not require a police escort.”
Because the road is two lanes and is a winding road, a detour was set up until the loads could be safely escorted after dawn on Friday.
“They are some very reputable firms,” Pivirotto said. “I talk to ATS Wind Energy Services almost daily. They have two sites near Stoystown and Berlin. Any time we’ve found anything, they make every effort to correct any problems. They have every intention to comply with regulations.”
By Vicki Rock
3 November 2007
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