Aerial view of the Sprague Energy tank farm in South Portland in from August 2013. File photo.

SOUTH PORTLAND — The city council on Feb. 2 approved to endorse Clean Air Advisory Committee comments regarding a report from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on tank emissions.

In January, Maine DEP released a report of measurements and control of tank emissions from heated aboveground petroleum storage tanks, after legislation was passed last year, said information from City Manager Scott Morelli.

“Anyone I’ve spoken with and myself included found that the report really was a little bit lackluster,” he said. “We were expecting a little bit more.”

Comments from the Clean Air Advisory Committee are in response to the report, and Morelli said there are five major points: more information on the type and status of tanks needed; concerns about having companies monitor their own emissions; concerns about degassing tanks and cutter stock, meaning oil and oil-related byproducts used to thin oil; cumulative impacts; and greater focus on health impacts.

According to committee comments, “CAAC urges the city council and the Legislature to question MEDEP about additional concrete regulatory next steps that would allow the state to regulate these facilities in a way the recognizes their potential cumulative effects and the potential health risks they may present for residents. The CAAC is concerned that suggested measures don’t represent a significant improvement over existing regulatory practice. Does the MEDEP see any opportunities to use existing authority, or new authority, to ensure the facilities don’t present an “unreasonable risk” to the people who live closest to them?”

Approval of the comments from the city council would authorize Mayor Misha Pride to to incorporate them into verbal remarks to the legislatures and the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, as well as written comments to the ENR committee and to the Maine DEP, Morelli said.

Meeting information from Morelli said the committee wishes the council to “adopt (the comments) and then submit to the legislature’s Environmental and Natural Resources committee (ENR), the entity that will be conducting hearings on the matter.”

Members of the public spoke in favor of the committee’s comments and work, and also addressed their own concerns regarding tank emissions.

Resident Pj Cragin said she believes the DEP report lacked urgency.

“How can we keep the petroleum industry in charge of their own emissions on their own property?” she said. “I would like to see us work towards an ordinance which requires that. It just makes complete sense to me.”

The issue is not going to go away, said resident Roberta Zuckerman, who added she hopes for more community and expert involvement in the future.

“I think the cumulative impacts is a really important issue,” Zuckerman said. “I don’t think we can divide which emissions came from which tank farm.”

Councilors also spoke in favor of the Clean Air Advisory Committee and the comments made. Councilor Sue Henderson said she believed the comments were concise and she supports the auditing and monitoring of tank emissions.

Pride attended the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Feb. 10 after approval from the city council.

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