An extremely unlikely event occurred late last month at the Portland sewage treatment plant, resulting in the accidental discharge of millions of gallons of partially treated sewage into Casco Bay. That was the result of two unlikely events happening at the same time: a power outage and the failure of a backup generator. Then there was July 2018, when an equally unlikely event resulted in the overflow of sewage that closed East End Beach for three weeks.

It’s a painful example of Murphy’s Law: If something can happen, it eventually will happen.

Until now, Portland Water District trustees have claimed that the reversal of the Portland-Montreal pipeline does not represent a serious threat to our precious, pristine drinking water. In last month’s water bill, a glossy insert touted the efforts of the water district to protect the Sebago Lake watershed.

It never mentioned the fact that the pipeline reversal is the single biggest threat. How many more unlikely events need to occur before they are willing to admit that the pumping of toxic tar sands oil through a 70-year-old pipe across the watershed and under Jordan Bay is an unacceptable risk?

Portland Pipe Line Corp. recently applied for the renewal of its permit to operate the pipeline and its tank farm. If either the federal appeals court or the state supreme court rules in their favor, the oil will be flowing and Portland Water District trustees will be asking us to believe that a spill will never happen. It’s time for them to publicly oppose the pipeline.

Tom Mikulka, Ph.D.

Cape Elizabeth

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