The toxic fumes from South Portland’s tank farm have, for years, made me and my loved ones ill. I’ve come to call them “the cancer fumes.” Nausea, headaches, swollen glands and heart pain are among our symptoms when petroleum fumes suffuse the neighborhood, often at night. With our home near Gulf tanks, shopping next to Citgo tanks and workplace near Global and Sprague tanks, cancer fumes are unavoidable.

The unpredictably toxic air put a stop to my bicycling to work. The noxious fumes, in warm months, from Global and Sprague cause me to seal the workplace shut.

We launch our lobster boat at Bug Light Park, next to the Gulf tanks. Unfortunately, we can’t always return before petroleum tanks, tanker ships and trucks pollute the sunset hour. Meanwhile, at the park, unwarned parents push baby strollers, elders walk and breast cancer triathletes train, all breathing the cancer fumes. With no public alert, toxic emissions, benzenes and more, permanently accumulate in our flesh.

Having lost one family member, a lifelong resident and employee of South Portland, to cancer, I worry for all of us.

Our neighborhoods urge the petroleum industry, government regulators and elected officials, who, for decades, have not kept us safe, to stop the cancer fumes immediately. Our bodies should no longer be used as oil industry sacrifice zones for profit. Tank farm owners should be mandated by law to fully mitigate 100 percent of their petroleum fumes on their property.

Pamela Cragin
South Portland

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