South Portland officials will be sharing data from an air quality monitoring program at a workshop Aug. 20 in response to complaints against the Global Partners LP tank farm. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

SOUTH PORTLAND — The city intends to share data from an eight-week air quality monitoring program at a workshop Aug. 20 in response to complaints against the Global Partners LP tank farm.

Members of the public will have the opportunity at Tuesday’s meeting to speak about their experiences living in proximity to the facility at 1 Clark Road.

City Manager Scott Morelli on Aug. 9 said the workshop, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 25 Cottage Road, will give officials a chance to analyze data, hear complaints and come up with ways to address future air quality concerns.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts-based petroleum storage company’s 10-tank facility has exceeded its emissions cap for volatile organic compounds for several years. The allegations were made public March 25, when the EPA announced a consent agreement with Global Partners.

More than 40 residents attended a June 10 training session and took home canisters to test the air quality around their homes.

While testing, residents were also encouraged to take detailed notes about their location, including the date, time and weather, to see if there were trends about when and where the odor is most prominent.

Residents who live near the tanks have complained of nausea, sore throats, fatigue and headaches that are often triggered late at night or early in the morning, when they claim the odor from the tank farm is the most pungent. According to the EPA website, VOCs can have short- and long-term negative health effects, including eye irritation, dizziness, kidney damage, and, in some cases, various types of cancer.

“Presenting these findings is just one of the first steps,” Morelli said. “We want to know if it’s a health threat. If so, we want to know where is it coming from.”

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also placed six air quality monitors at locations in the city July 10, Morelli said. The devices will sample air quality in one 24-hour period each week over the course of a year. The results will be analyzed and tested for more than 50 types of air pollutants.

At a neighborhood meeting July 18 organized by Protect South Portland to discuss tank fumes, more than 60 people aired their concerns about health, financial distress and fears of environmental damage linked to emissions of VOCs from Global’s heated tanks that store asphalt and residual No. 6 fuel oil.

Almost all those in attendance at the neighborhood meeting said they plan to speak out at the upcoming workshop.

On July 24, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said Global also violated air quality standards by failing to submit a compliance test report by the agency’s deadline and for burning fuel in two boilers containing more sulfur than allowed under state law.

The testing, submitted a week after the July 5 deadline, was for a vapor combustion unit that incinerates emissions released when petroleum products are loaded from large storage tanks into tank trucks. The results were found to be in compliance with the facility’s emissions license.

The second violation, from an April inspection, showed No. 6 heavy fuel oil that contained 1.6 percent sulfur, which is more than three times the 0.5 percent allowed under a 2018 statute that reduced the allowed limit from 2 percent.

“This is not a short term problem and doesn’t have a short-term solution,” Councilor April Caricchio said at the conclusion of the council’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13. “Emotions run very high, but we hopefully will be able to listen and learn from residents and spend time gathering information.”


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