October 21, 2013

Tar sands remains sticky wicket in South Portland

High-flying rhetoric, myriad press events and dramatic pronouncements have been the hallmark of the campaign for the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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The ordinance amendment’s backers also point to the off-gassing of harmful chemicals if such a project were built, saying that the air in Greater Portland is already dirty enough. In their argument, because tank farms are so closely situated to residential neighborhoods and schools, children can’t help but breathe and be harmed by the odorous gases the tanks sometimes emit, although the total particulate and volatile organic compound loads that the Portland Pipe Line Corp. was permitted to expel under the 2009 proposal represented a mere fraction of what other facilities in the area already emit.

If the Waterfront Protection Ordinance is approved by voters, how it will be administered and what challenges it faces remain unclear.

Pat Doucette, the city’s code enforcement officer, has declined to interpret the initiative or respond to questions about the appeal process if a permit applicant in the city were to be turned down citing the new measure’s provisions. City Manager James Gailey, in an email, has largely done the same.

“Due to the issue being a political hot-potato for this community, (South Portland municipal) staff will not take a position or provide interpretation,” Gailey wrote Friday. “Any appeal will be through the court of law after the vote goes one way or another.”

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:


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