Tuesday night, Selectman Doug Norman addressed a question that seemed to be on the minds of several locals who attended a recent informational meeting hosted by DCP MIdstream, the company that hopes to build a 22.7-million-gallon liquefied petroleum gas storage tank at Mack Point:

When it comes to hiring people to fill the permanent and spin-off jobs the company expects the project to provide, how local is local?

During the portion of the board meeting that was dedicated to reports from the selectmen, Norman spoke to that question, which arose several times at the forum that was hosted by Colorado-based DCP Midstream Jan. 26.

“I asked a question about jobs and I don’t think I got an adequate answer,” said Norman. “They only said how many jobs would be available… When I asked what their definition of community employment is, they did not answer.”

At the informational meeting, DCP Midstream officials said it is preferable to hire local people to fill 12-15 permanent jobs and an estimated 100 construction positions, but Norman said he wanted to know if applicants from Bangor or Portland would be considered just as local as a Searsport resident.

Norman said he posed that very question to DCP Midstream Chief Operating Officer Chris Lewis after the meeting, and that Lewis confirmed Norman’s concerns about existing employment laws.

“He said it would be illegal to promise anybody a job,” said Norman.

Norman said Lewis explained employment laws bar the company from discriminating against any job applicants based on race, gender, or in this case, town of residence.

“I’m bringing this up because a lot of people support this because they think they can get a job, and that might be the case, I certainly hope they do,” said Norman. “But there are no guarantees.”

Company officials at the meeting announced their intentions to hold a job fair in the coming weeks, though no date had been announced for that event as of Feb. 8.

At the Jan. 26 meeting, Chris Tucker, a construction worker from Winterport, explained the nature of an agreement that was struck between the company and the Maine State Building Construction Council in regards to the proposed facility in Searsport.

Tucker said the agreement stemmed from the ongoing struggle of both unionized and non-unionized construction workers to find good jobs. Through the agreement, Tucker said, the company would hire local workers, pay “livable” wages and train younger people who want to work in construction fields.

Also at the Jan. 26 meeting, Lewis also reminded the audience of the increased business the construction phase would bring to local hotels, restaurants and grocery stores.

Norman’s comments were not the only ones that related to the DCP Midstream proposal, as members of the public also weighed in on the topic Tuesday night.

Anna Kessler read a prepared statement that was authored by herself, Astrig Tanguay and Betty Schopmeyer regarding their ongoing review of the town’s emergency plan. In the statement, the three women expressed concern that despite the “level of training, bravery and dedication of our totally volunteer fire department and emergency responders,” the town does not have the manpower or the resources to adequately protect the public in the event of a large-scale emergency.

“Our concern is that the picture is not complete,” said Kessler.

Kessler said town’s plan “does not fully address the level of hazard” that currently exists in the community, and offered four reasons why she and her co-authors arrived at that assessment.

First, Kessler said the plan has limited information about hazards and toxic materials that are already existent in the town’s port operations and are already being transported along Route 1. The plan, she said, does little to inform residents about the existing on-site materials, the risks involved or what the public can do to prepare for an emergency involving hazardous materials.

“GAC produces, uses and stores dozens of chemicals. Two of them — ammonia and chlorine — are toxic inhalation hazards and are listed as extremely hazardous substances,” said Kessler. “These are only some of the commodities that come into, through and out of our community by ship, rail and road. They pass close by our schools, churches, shops, businesses, homes, historic district, parks, children’s playgrounds and public gathering places. Every single day.”

Secondly, Kessler said, the town has no detailed warning system for alerting residents of an emergency or pending evacuation. Kessler referred to the fire that broke out at one of the tanks at the Irving Oil facility last summer, and how despite the response of seven towns and additional equipment that was brought to the scene, it took several hours to put out the fire.

The affected tank is in an area that Kessler said contains a total of 34 million gallons of petroleum products, but the residents living in that area were never directly notified of the situation. Kessler said there are 25 homes that are within 700 yards of the site of the fire.

Third, the town plan does not give a description of a worst-case scenario, Kessler stated.

“To put it plainly, in a community such as ours with constant exposure to the storage and transport of hazardous materials, an emergency plan that either does not acknowledge or dimisses even the possibility of a toxic or flammable worst-case scenario is simply irresponsible,” said Kessler.

Lastly, Kessler said, she, Tanguay and Schopmeyer take issue with a statement in the town plan that indicates it is “highly unlikely” that the town would be a target for international terrorists.

Kessler noted that the addition of the proposed DCP Midstream facility would impose “a huge and dramatic increase in this community’s threat exposure” and reminded the board that terrorists take many forms.

“A simple Google search reveals that both U.S. and foreign terrorist groups are alive and well in the U.S., but the threat could be from a lone, crazed individual,” said Kessler. “Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczinski, became household words, and just today we read in the Bangor Daily News about a worker at GAC arrested for possession and probable use of the most frightening hallucinogenic drug today — bath salts.”

In response to Kessler’s comments, Town Manager James Gillway reminded the public that town emergency management director Almon “Bud” Rivers is in the process of reviewing the town’s emergency plan.

“Anyone who wishes to comment or suggest changes [to the plan] needs to do that in writing,” said Gillway. “Since it’s in the review phase, the sooner the better.”

Regarding the ongoing permitting process for the DCP Midstream proposal, Gillway said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comments regarding the company’s permit application with the agency. Gillway said comments must be submitted by Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Later in the meeting, resident Phyllis Sommer asked Gillway for the contact information for the Maine office of the USACE. Gillway stated comments could be mailed to the USACE Maine Project Office at 675 Western Ave #3, Manchester, ME 04351. Those wishing to comment on the project may also contact Project Manager Jay Clement at 623-8367, Gillway said, or visit the website at nae.usace.army.mil.

Earlier in the meeting, Sommer acknowledged that the DCP Midstream proposal has become an emotional and divisive issue in town, but asked residents to be respectful when discussing their points of view.

“I’d like to take a moment to make a plea for civility,” she said. “… We need to be careful not to rupture the fabric of our community.”