October 18, 2013

Letters to the editor: South Portland waterfront ordinance stirs debate

I consider myself an environmentally sensitive person.

click image to enlarge

The Portland Pipe Line Corp. operation in South Portland. The impact the Waterfront Protection Ordinance would have on Portland Pipe Line and other businesses is one topic at issue in the discussion of the ordinance.

2013 File Photo/John Ewing

I was the president of the Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in the late 1970s and placed a conservation easement on our family property in Penobscot Bay to preserve a wilderness area and restrict future development.

I believe that it is critically important to protect the beauty and the environment of Maine for our health and to support our state’s largest industry, tourism.

Even from this vantage point, I believe that the South Portland Waterfront Protection Ordinance is much too broad and should be voted down by citizens of South Portland in November.

It is not “targeted” to deal with the alleged problem (tar sands oil importation), and is very likely to have serious long-term consequences on the development and use of the working waterfront of our city.

South Portland and Maine as a whole need good-paying, high-quality jobs.

Section 4 of the ordinance will make it very difficult for jobs to be created along the South Portland waterfront.

This provision is overkill, in my judgment, and not necessary to deal with the problem at hand.

I plan to vote “no” on the ordinance, and I encourage my fellow citizens to vote “no” as well.

David Wakelin

South Portland

I am a lifelong resident of South Portland and grew up in Ferry Village, near the oil tanks.

My children grew up in Pleasantdale, with three oil companies around us, with no ill effects.

I was in the South Portland Fire Department for 40 years, 20 of those as fire chief. I had my differences with the oil companies over the years, but they were always willing to listen.

When we saw a problem, we enacted ordinances that cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars. They didn’t like it, but they understood our safety issues and complied.

Whenever they wanted to change their way of doing business, they always met with us, we discussed it and came to some sort of agreement.

As far as safety goes, they were one of the best corporate taxpayers we dealt with.

They purchased for the Fire Department a lot of equipment used for fighting oil fires. They certainly didn’t have to, as they pay a hefty tax that could have been used for that purpose.

I know that Portland Pipe Line flies over their pipeline to Montreal and sends a camera through their pipeline regularly.

I can tell you that, as past fire chief in South Portland, we have a lot of bigger hazards than the oil companies. If you don’t believe me, ask your present fire chief.

The oil companies and their supporting business are very essential to our tax base and the economy.

For those reasons, I ask you to vote against the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

Philip McGouldrick

retired fire chief

South Portland

The South Portland City Council’s public display of affection for tar sands oil and Portland Pipe Line Corp., part owned by ExxonMobil, is the reason concerned citizens put the issue directly in front of voters (“Five on S. Portland council reject oil initiative,” Oct. 15).

After all, these citizens have a lot to be concerned about when one considers ExxonMobil’s shoddy record for cleanup of spills, starting with the Exxon Valdez and continuing with the Kalamazoo and Mayflower spills, none of which are cleaned up.

If the pipeline is reversed to transport tar sands, the citizens of South Portland, Portland, Cape Elizabeth and more will be at least giving up the very air they breathe, as shipping the diluted bitumen requires flaring off the cancer-causing chemicals added to make it flow. They also risk the drinking water for 15 percent of the state of Maine when there is a spill.

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