Letters, Sept. 6
Questions writer's facts
In response to Peter Petersen’s letter of August 23, 2012, to The Republican Journal.
Mr. Petersen cites a number of different "facts" and holds the opinion that the proposed DCP Midstream LPG tank is a Searsport issue and no other communities need to be involved. For some time now Searsport citizens have asked safety and security questions about the project's massive size — a 22.7 Million Gallon Tank, 14 stories tall by 20 stories wide.
One fact Mr. Petersen omits is that major LPG terminals elsewhere are serviced by large city fire departments — literally hundreds of personnel — with highly specialized equipment and regular hazmat training. Searsport by contrast does not have the personnel numbers, equipment or training to handle a major emergency at the Mack Point site. Further, Searsport is relying on mutual aid from other communities in case of an emergency at the proposed project site.
Perhaps larger questions needs to be asked before this project is approved. The first being, "If this is a Searsport issue alone, Shouldn't Searsport alone be self reliant ensuring public safety and dealing with any size emergency? The next being, "Wouldn't it be wrong for Searsport to depend on mutual aid help from untrained and under-equipped emergency responders from other communities?"
Tank offers no upside
Upon moving to Northport a year ago from Boston, I was fleetingly comforted to not be looking at industrial structures everywhere I went.
The beauty of Midcoast Maine is that we lack such modern eyesores. We value our natural beauty, and have actively maintained such a special standard of appreciation of what nature has provided.
There is something to be said about living in a place known as “Vacationland,” a place where travelers come from all corners of the world to enjoy. Comparatively, our state has remained one of the few places left relatively unscathed by ugly, built-up, corporate nonsense constructions.
DCP (Duke Conaco-Phillips) is proposing to build a 22.7-million-gallon tank to house liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) on the pristine coast of Searsport, Maine. For starters, we live in a community that is dependent on seasonal tourism (much of it nature-based). People come to Maine for vacation (simply stated, a time when one leaves the polluted cities in which they reside to seek fresh air and enjoy the pleasures that nature has gifted).
If this monstrosity of an edifice (14 stories high) is permitted, our economy will tank as a result of the tank. Tourists and residents alike are already subject to traffic along US Route 1 from Bar Harbor to Kittery. If DCP has their way, there will be up to 166 (this number has since been reneged on by DCP lawyers, discrediting their honesty, in my opinion) tanker trucks clogging up the vital passageway a day. Furthermore, if there is one, singular, incident of a said tanker truck accident it could potentially cause massive damage to its immediate surroundings. The town of Searsport has only a volunteer fire department with little experience in proper protocol and currently possesses insignificant amounts of effective equipment.
There will be a disgusting amount of air, light and noise pollution. Not only will this affect our quality of life as residents, but the local dwelling wildlife. The tank will also result in local businesses suffering due to traffic and a decline in numbers of tourists.
I am in full support of anything that will create jobs and better the lives of my fellow citizens. This simply will not offer either. I wake up every morning to a stunning view of Penobscot Bay. If this ludicrous proposal passes, I will wake up to a view of the tank, and then one day to a property that I cannot sell. Both selfishly and selflessly, will I fight this absurd pitch, until DCP finds some sort of moral civility that seemingly they have never had.
To some, the Earth is flat in Searsport
Personally speaking as a Searsport resident, I think that some here still think the Earth is flat. In their myopic view, it is better to encourage industrial development than to protect their neighbors’ safety.
Before 1492, sailors “knew” the earth was flat. So, too, Searsport’s Planning Board, in deciding DCP Midstream’s application for the largest Liquid Propane Storage tank on the Eastern Seaboard, conveniently forgets the 1998 ice storm that left Searsport without power for days — but it happened.
Unfortunately, DCP Midstream’s application shows its tank has no power backup for the cooling system. The only “backup” is to release the propane gas, hoping that no spark or smoker is in the area.
The awful terrorist events of 9/11 seemed unthinkable — but they occurred. It seems unthinkable that Americans could sympathize with al-Qaeda, or vengeful people could cause a catastrophe. But public attacks occurred in Aurora, Colo., Oklahoma City and elsewhere.
A lunatic flying a plane from Belfast Airport, or a driver tossing a Molotov cocktail, would have an easy target with the continually illuminated tank as a guide.
At a Searsport Planning Board meeting it was announced that Good Harbor, an independent security firm, would evaluate critical safety questions in an unbiased manner. A Planning Board member was recorded saying he already had all the information he needed.
A geologist from the University of Maine informed the Planning Board that no information about the extent of the fault at Sears Island or of other faults under Mack Point has been studied.
The Planning Board was informed by Dr. David Goldschmitt, a Searsport homeowner, former director of emergency operations at Ground Zero, and nationally certified Homeland Security expert, that he believed there was sufficient potential danger from this project to make it unsafe. Dr. Goldschmitt determined if one of the storage tanks already at Mack Point caught on fire, a chain of events would ensue resulting in an explosion.
Unthinkable? No, such a fire occurred on Aug. 25, 2012, in Venezuela, and a fire at Mack Point on June 7, 2011, in an empty storage tank required five hours for 70 firefighters from seven towns to extinguish it.
The Searsport fire chief acknowledged that all we could do is let the tank burn itself out if it caught fire, but what about the explosions that would result?
It is irresponsible to ignore the “unthinkable” we have witnessed over the past 11 years, to dismiss information that could save your fellow citizens’ lives.
Maybe the unlikely will not occur, but I sure won’t bet my neighbor’s life on it, and neither should the Planning Board.
David N. Berg
As a former New England resident and occasional return visitor to Maine and New Hampshire, I would like to voice my opinion on the proposed DCP tank slated to be installed in Searsport. In no small part what draws me back east is the down-to-earth nature of the people, as well as the region’s natural environment.
The majority of my time in New England was spent living in eastern Massachusetts. However, even as a younger man, my preference was to travel to the western end of Massachusetts or to Maine or New Hampshire for recreation and a true sense of nature — something I deeply value. I also have friends who live in Searsport.
Although I now reside in the Pacific Northwest, I want everyone to know that the impact, if this tank is in fact installed, will have more than simply a "regional" reach.
Have you considered how much less if at all those through the country and even the entire globe who value Maine’s existing coastline will chose to simply go elsewhere in Maine or elsewhere altogether if this DCP profit venture is built? Those who say Searsport tourism will not be adversely impacted have either failed to consider the true impact or have deliberately ignored this issue for personal reasons or gain.
A burden such at this 23-million-gallon tank upon a community may never be resolved. Even 30 years after its "usefulness" to the utility that installed it has passed and 30 years after it is finally removed, its legacy will continue to haunt a small community such as Searsport. This has the potential to haunt all of Midcoast Maine for generations to come, if not forever.
Once you have one such monstrosity such as this can-TANK-erous beast in your back yard, others are sure to follow. After all, now that nobody wants to live there and after all the land has been bought up at pennies on the dollar by said utility you will, in all likelihood, wind up with nothing more than an industrial wasteland. I truly have to question what promises were made to the Searsport community when this industrial site was first proposed and how well those promises have been kept.
This site, if developed as proposed, will be good for nothing more than more of the same -- this for generations and generations to come. Is this what you really want as a legacy for your children? Is this what you truly want as a legacy for/from the community of Searsport and Maine? Is this what you are willing to trade for a very few jobs that, in all likelihood, will go to those DCP made promises to long before this issue was presented to the community of Searsport?
I say wake up and smell the over-pressure burn before it is too late. I say fight like heck now because once it is in the hands of the likes of DCP all the regret in the world for not fighting will never bring Searsport back. I say fight now to protect the grandeur of what you have. Remember, once it is gone you will lose locally, regionally, nationally and possibly even on a global scale. And for what – the questionable promise of maybe a few jobs? One has to ask if it is really worth it?