Resident seeks answers regarding potential tank risks

By Tanya Mitchell | Sep 10, 2012
Photo by: Tanya Mitchell

Searsport — At the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night, Sept. 4, one local resident sought answers to questions he and some of his neighbors have posed regarding the possible risks associated with a 22.7 million gallon liquefied petroleum gas storage tank that a Colorado company hopes to construct at Mack Point.

Searsport resident Harlan McLaughlin asked the board if the town’s emergency management director, Almon “Bud” Rivers, had provided answers to the questions he and other members of a local coalition known as Thanks But No Tank asked last winter about the potential safety hazards associated with the tank.

Officials with the would-be developer of the LPG storage tank and terminal, DCP Midstream, are currently working with the Searsport Planning Board to gain approval of the project application.

McLaughlin, who has publicly expressed his own opposition to the project since DCP first approached the town in Dec. 2010, asked the board if Rivers had provided questions to the answers he and his fellow TBNT members posed about the development at an informational meeting last winter.

McLaughlin said at the time, Rivers told those who attended the meeting he would answer a list of safety and security-related questions about the project “at the appropriate forum,” and Tuesday, McLaughlin said he felt it was time for Rivers to provide answers to those questions.

McLaughlin made reference to a letter that was addressed to town officials from Dr. David Goldschmitt, a career physician who also served as the emergency department director at Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks in New York Sept. 11, 2001. McLaughlin suggested since selectmen had already asked Rivers to vet claims Goldschmitt made in his letter regarding safety risks and questions he raised about emergency response capabilities in Penobscot Bay, perhaps the board could ask Rivers to provide answers to residents’ questions at the same time.

Board chairman Aaron Fethke said he thought the TBNT attorney, Steve Hinchman, was already provided a copy of the answers McLaughlin sought about two months ago.

“I can send you a copy,” said Fethke.

“I was unaware that it had even been addressed,” said McLaughlin. “Thank you.”

Selectman Roland LaReau said he was looking forward to seeing the findings of Good Harbor Techmark, an organization Islesboro Island Trust commissioned to conduct an all hazards risk assessment study of the proposed project. While there has been some indication from members of TBNT that Good Harbor would begin gathering data for the study early this fall, Town Manager James Gillway said he has yet to learn exactly when Good Harbor would begin its work with town employees.

At recent meetings, selectmen heard requests from some residents to seek cooperation from town employees when Good Harbor does begin its work, and at the last meeting, Gillway asked that the request come to the town in writing, so it could be included in the formal record.

“We got a letter from Islesboro today requesting that we participate, but I have nothing from Attorney Hinchman yet,” said Gillway.

“I think a lot of the questions you’ve raised, and a lot of other people have raised, are going to be answered in that assessment,” said LaReau.


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