Take a stand for public health

To the editor,

I have lived in South Portland for over 20 years. I was a small part of the citizen action led by Protect South Portland that stopped the reversal of ancient pipes to send dirty tar sands to South Portland. It was personally very satisfying. We prevented a problem. We were protecting our air. For a person with chronic lung disease, this is very important.

Little did we know that at the time we passed the Clean Air Ordinance, our air was actually already being horribly polluted by multiple corporations. It wasn’t just that there were terrible smells that came from the many tanks. The emissions also contain high-levels of toxic chemicals. The people that live and work close to the tanks have experienced a wide range of health concerns. And the emissions continue still.

The truth is that corporations, by definition, are all about profits. That is what their bylaws demand, profits first. In general, they simply do not care about people, in spite of their claim to be one. It is time that corporations be held accountable for the damage they do, especially when they repeatedly violate emission limits. Corporations have not been good neighbors.

At the very least, these corporations need to clean up their act and provide ongoing state of the art monitoring of air quality, completely at their expense. I happen to think these corporations also owe some citizens reparations for illnesses, and ruined property values as the truth has become known.

I appreciate that my city council has stood with and for the citizens of South Portland. I am grateful for the efforts of Clean Air Advisory Committee and Protect South Portland and I support their recommendations. Now, I encourage my state legislators to take advantage of all the work already done by South Portland. And I hope the state will stand for public health and not for corporate greed.

Louise Tate

South Portland

Take steps to protect South Portland residents

To the editor,

Searsport, Bucksport, Hampden and South Portland are the ports through which bulk oil, petroleum and asphalt materials are shipped and stored. What materials these ports handle has changed over time as have the impacts on citizens living nearby.

I‘ve lived in South Portland fairly close to tank farms for 45 years, but only noticed terrific odors over the past five years. Odors have been very strong and impossible to escape. Some neighbors developed severe respiratory problems from these noxious fumes and odors. On numerous occasions the odors have invaded my home and those of my neighbors.

Tank farm operators are licensed by MDEP under specific emissions limits, but when those limits were repeatedly exceeded, it took multi-year legal action before operators were held accountable, fined, and pollution control measures adopted by consent decree.

Tank farm entities, licensed by the state of Maine, should not be allowed to harm their neighbors. It is a violation of their rights and an assault on their well-being.

Undoubtedly, vapor control measures will increase the cost of materials handled at these facilities, but it should not be only Maine communities near these facilities that pay the price through diminished property value and damaged health. In this age of environmental challenges, taking steps to protect Mainers by requiring that fumes and toxic materials be captured on site is the right thing to do.

I urge all to support their state legislators and the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee in passing much needed legislation.

Paul Cloutier

South Portland