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 the Maine Department of Environmental Protection 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 onsite 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