SOUTH PORTLAND — The Clean Air Advisory Committee delivered its final report to the City Council last week, with a renewed recommendation to more closely monitor air emissions in neighborhoods near petroleum tanks.

Formed in 2019, the committee’s 2021 recommendation to move permanent air monitoring stations directly into the neighborhoods beside massive petroleum storage tanks still has not been acted on. South Portland has more than 100 tanks near homes, schools and businesses on the waterfront and in other areas.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has said it cannot move monitoring stations into the neighborhoods because of staffing shortages, the report states. Modeling for the impacts of human exposure to tank emissions also hasn’t been conducted by regulators.

“The permanent monitoring stations set up three years ago have provided a broad window into air quality across the entire city, and in parts of Portland as well,” the report states. However, “they haven’t been able to capture the ambient air quality in neighborhoods abutting the tank farms.”

The committee urged the city to begin operating monitoring stations on Pearl Street and Front Street as soon as possible and to continue monitoring air quality at Cash Corner, near Rigby Yard.

“If DEP is unable to support these stations, consider using city funds or applying for grant funding,” the report states.


The committee also urged the city to continue advocating for proposed rules under 2021 legislation that requires fenceline monitoring of tank emissions.

With fenceline monitoring, testing equipment would be installed at the edge of tank properties and sample air emissions over two-week periods. Heated tanks would undergo more complex testing twice each year.

The committee also recommended that the city take steps to monitor and better understand the impact of burst emissions, which are the vapors emitted when a tank is filled or during a similar event.

The council received the report Tuesday but didn’t take immediate action.

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