The city of South Portland and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will roll out short-term air quality monitoring tests to assess the condition of the air in South Portland beginning next month, city officials said Thursday.

State environmental officials pledged in April to help the city develop an air quality monitoring program to address community concerns raised by a federal lawsuit that accused Global Partners LP of violating the Clean Air Act at its petroleum storage facility on the Fore River.

Global Partners LP, a Massachusetts-based company with a 10-tank facility in South Portland, has for years exceeded its emissions cap for hazardous volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

That news led some residents to worry that industrial odors coming from the tanks and terminals are more than a nuisance and that the air might be harming them and their families.

Starting the week of June 10, the DEP will put six air quality monitoring devices at various locations in South Portland, City Manager Scott Morelli said on Thursday. The devices will sample air quality over a 24-hour period each week.

After samples are collected for several months, they will be analyzed by the DEP at its Air Lab in Augusta. Morelli said the analysis will test for more than 50 types of hazardous air pollutants, or HAPS, which are a subset of volatile organic compounds. The DEP issues licenses to businesses for how many specific HAPS and total tons of VOCs can be emitted into the air each year.


The DEP also will provide several canisters that can capture immediate air quality samples. The canisters take about 30 seconds to fill and can be used to measure HAP levels when there is a strong odor present, Morelli said. The fire department will use the canisters when it responds to odor complaints.

Residents also will be able to get canisters to collect air samples. The DEP will provide training to interested residents at 6:30 p.m. June 10 at South Portland City Hall.

Results from the fixed location and immediate monitoring samples will be compared to federal and state limits and then reviewed by the state toxicologist to determine potential health concerns, Morelli said. The findings will be released at a City Council meeting on Aug. 20.

“We appreciate the seriousness with which the DEP staff are treating the air quality concerns of South Portland residents,” Mayor Claude Morgan said in a statement. “The city and DEP working collaboratively will result in much better information in the short term, and better monitoring in the long term to help ensure that the air we’re breathing is clean.”

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