Aerial view of the Sprague Energy tank farm in South Portland in 2013. FILE

SOUTH PORTLAND — The Clean Air Advisory Committee will present its findings to date about the city’s air quality issues – including emissions from petroleum tanks – to the city council Tuesday.

However, City Manager Scott Morelli said the committee is expected on March 2 to ask for more time to continue gathering data.

“There’s not enough data yet to support any definitive conclusions,” Morelli said this week.

The committee’s facilitator, David Plumb, was not available for comment this week before The Forecaster’s deadline.

Morelli said the committee will recommend more monitoring to determine whether the tanks are creating unhealthy emissions. If that turns out to be the case, Morelli said, the recommendation would most likely be for more stringent regulation of the tanks.

In September 2019, the committee was charged “to present the South Portland City Council with timely yet comprehensive recommendations on improving air quality throughout South Portland,” according to city documents.

The committee was formed after a number of concerns raised in 2019, when the federal Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Global Partners, LLC, which operates several above-ground oil storage tanks, had violated the federal Clean Air Act. Later, the city learned there were also emission issues with the Sprague Energy tanks.

This week, Morelli said the committee was asked to examine air quality citywide, not just around the tanks, and in a meeting this week to discuss the finer details of their recommendations committee members said they are monitoring an area near the Hannaford Distribution Center on Hemco Road due to the levels of truck traffic. The tanks, however, have become an area of particular concern for the committee, Morelli said.

Similar emissions issues are at the heart of an ongoing legal dispute between the city and the Portland Pipeline Co. The city is trying to block the company from using the pipeline to import oil from Canada, but the city claims that transferring the oil to storage tanks would violate the city’s 2014 Clear Skies Ordinance. The company has been locked in a battle with the city in federal court starting in 2015. The case is now in the hands of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, with no further action expected until at least this summer.

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