Air quality is a major concern

To the editor,

With so much consuming our news feeds and spirits about the pandemic, I felt compelled to write this letter to urgently remind South Portland residents to keep this important issue in your hearts and minds.

I grew up in SoPo, class of ’93 and left Maine for college. I moved to New York City after 9/11 and have worked there for the past 17 years. My mom has lived in SoPo almost her whole life and so did her parents. I come home to visit on major holidays and vacations.

As a Mainer, I’ve always been passionate about the environment. Over the years my mom has kept articles from the local papers about the toxic emissions from Global Oil partners and I get the latest news when I’m here. Last Fall I attended a SoPo city council public meeting and recently joined a virtual public meeting.

I remember visiting SoPo last Thanksgiving break and waking up, feeling sick to my stomach like I had food poisoning and didn’t feel up to join family gatherings. I recently found myself back with family in SoPo, working remote since quarantining. I woke up feeling sick to my stomach again, windows closed and yet the house still had a strong oil smell. My mom felt sick too.

It was clear the toxic smell was making us sick. I had heard the oil companies may do their work overnight when most people are sleeping so we don’t notice the toxic smell. I worry how many toxins are we breathing when asleep? I follow this issue through the ProtectSouthPortland Facebook page and ProtectSouthPortland.org.

We’ve got to hold these billion dollar oil companies accountable to protect SoPo’s health now and for future generations. I urge you to please show your support about this important issue by attending virtual city council meetings, write letters when called upon and document when you smell oil around town by using the app Smell MyCity. I would love to move back to Maine someday to be near family but my concern about the air quality is a major concern in doing that.

Kelly Roberts
New York