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WHAT YOU CAN DO

The residents of South Portland and nearby Portland have suffered long enough from the toxic fumes coming from the 120 above ground oil storage tanks embedded in our community.  Many residents have experienced headaches and respiratory complications and the inability to enjoy their property without noxious odors.   The Committee of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) will soon begin discussions of a bill to tighten requirements for the permitting of above ground oil storage tanks in South Portland and statewide.  We seek to have the emissions from these tanks closely monitored with information available to the public and the installation of the best available capture equipment.  

 

Now is the time to follow this issue and to be prepared to testify before the ENR when there is a bill to be voted on.

 

Now is the time because PSP has joined with 12 environmental organizations and health groups who are ready to work together in this important effort.

 

We will keep you informed when this bill comes before the ENR to be voted on.

act Now

We encourage people directly affected by these fumes or feel the anxiety of the hazardous chemicals being emitted in to our air to write letters to the editor (LTE’s) of your local papers. It is important to keep this issue in the minds of the public in order for change to happen.   Information on where to send your LTE is under the dropdown Get Involved.  You will also find the emails for the So. Portland city councilors and our state legislators.

 

Help make a record of the tank fumes. Download the Smell My City app today and start reporting the dates and times when you smell the tank fumes! 

Read more and download a flier to share with your friends and neighbors here>>

Learn more

Download this information packet compiled by Protect South Portland with the support of the Tank Emission Coalition of Maine, also known as No Toxic Tanks. This packet includes information about this issue, quotes from impacted citizens and recommendations for action.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)'s recently presented before the ENR Committee. Click here to read Protect South Portland's response>>

Oil Tank Terminal Emissions in Maine are making people sick

Toxic chemicals in tank farm emissions that are contaminating our air and making people sick are not monitored or controlled adequately. Regulators have repeatedly failed to address the problem in a way that protects public health. What is needed is the will to do it. The Maine State Legislature must act to ensure that the oil industry conducts its business responsibly and in consideration of the health and welfare of all Mainers, including those who live near the 120 tanks in South Portland and the tanks in Searsport, Bucksport and Hampden.

Background

Last year the legislature, according to Resolve LD 1915, directed the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to study the best methods to measure and control emissions on all tanks in Maine, including reviewing what other states and regulatory bodies require of tank operators. The department did not fulfill the mandate of the resolve.  Instead they dismissed the need for more comprehensive monitoring and have entirely excluded the efforts of Massachusetts to address the same issue. The Maine DEP has focused more on odor than on the risk to public health and have recommended little more than the status quo. 

Currently, no actual testing of emissions is required for operators to obtain licenses.  In the report, the DEP defends depending solely on formulas developed by the American Petroleum Institute.  These formulas have been deemed acceptable in the report despite the US EPA finding that the oil companies using this method were grossly underestimating their emissions with no accountability.

In 2012 and 2013, the EPA required actual emissions to be tested at heated storage tanks in South Portland and Searsport. Those tests revealed that Global and Sprague were in violation of their state permits and the Clean Air Act. The companies failed to remedy those violations for years and the federal government ultimately filed lawsuits against them. In 2019 those lawsuits ended in settlements, known as consent decrees, that did not mandate controls or transparency at the tanks.

The South Portland City Council created a Clean Air Advisory Committee to study what can be done to make our air safer to breathe. That group has worked tirelessly for two years to vet this issue and to push for more transparency from regulators and the industry. 

Although the Maine DEP report, which was released January 1, 2021 recommended a few positive changes, the report dismisses the need for actual emission monitoring and control and claims that existing federal and state regulations are adequate.  The 120 above ground oil storage tanks are responsible for 70% of the emissions in So. Portland.

current goal

The Environmental and Natural Resources Committee is now considering a bill to establish more stringent requirements for the oil companies doing business in South Portland and statewide. We would like such a bill to require emissions to be measured to define  the problem chemicals and provide the best means for mitigation to be incorporated into the requirements for tank operating permit renewal.   We feel stack testing and continuous fence line monitoring with data available to the public should be mandated.  Also we seek to require all emissions to be treated to protect the community from the effects of toxic chemicals.

 

PSP feels the lack of any requirement to monitor or control the toxic emissions from these tanks which are located within our neighborhoods and making residents sick is not acceptable and a social justice issue.  We have been working hard to keep pressure on the City Council and the Maine DEP to take aggressive action to clean up the air in South Portland. 

 

For more comprehensive information on the Maine DEP report, evaluations of it, and the health effects of toxic fumes, click the dropdown under OUR CAMPAIGNS.

Learn more about the work of Protect South Portland and how you can get involved under the tabs above!

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A special thank you goes out to Dan Woods and Karen Silverman for their photography donations.