Information and Fact Sheet for proposed DCP Midstream LPG Tank Storage Project in Searsport      ACOE Letters and Air Issues

"The US and Canada remain the largest LPG producing region in the world, with about 23% of global supply. The Middle East is the world’s largest LPG exporting region and the second largest LPG producer after the US-Canada...... with supply from the North Sea declining, imports will increasingly come from elsewhere, particularly Africa"   Oil & Gas Journal,  The PennWell Petroleum Group 2011

Information and Fact Sheet for proposed DCP Midstream LPG Tank Storage Project in Searsport

The proposed action would be among the largest LPG terminal and bulk storage facilities on the East Coast.  The terminal would be located on 24 acres on the edge of Long Cove in Searsport, Maine and would include ship unloading facilities, a mile long pipeline to a 22.7 million gallon bulk storage tank that would store compressed LPG at -44 °F, a 75-feet tall emergency propane flare that is permitted to burn up to 500 hours a year, additional tanks, compressors, pumps and refrigeration units encircled by a 62 foot containment dyke, LPG tanker truck loading stations, a rail car loading yard, and miles of roads and fencing.

The 24-acre Terminal grounds would be permanently clear-cut, and permitted to operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The bulk storage tank would be 202-feet wide and 138-feet tall, would tower above anything else in Searsport as it's top would be 187 feet above sea level.  The tank and terminal would be visible for miles along the Midcoast and from Penobscot Bay – particularly at night.  The Terminal’s truck and rail loading facilities are expected to fill 40 to 144 trucks and 8 rail cars per day – equating to 80 to 288 truck trips per day, or one truck trip through town every five to 15 minutes – double the current truck traffic from the Mack Point Intermodal Cargo terminal. tank view shedThe permit states that each loading station can fill up to three trucks per hour.  Tree buffer and new altered stream designated for same placement according to maps of project.

This massive facility will be located a stone’s throw from Route 1 and mere yards away from Searsport’s most popular restaurant, a motel and several businesses and private residences.  Based on a review of the EPA’s requirements for Risk Management Plans, the blast zone for this project is at least one mile in radius and includes a large area of the town of Searsport including quite a number of private homes and businesses, and public properties.  In contrast, the only other facility of this size in the east, in Tampa, Florida, has a safety and security zone of two miles with no other homes or businesses.

The potential impacts from locating a major industrial facility on the edge of a residential and commercial area are significant.  Members of TBNT are concerned that the extreme visual impact, excessive noise, light and air pollution, and the inherent safety, security, and environmental risks associated with this highly volatile and hazardous fuel, will fundamentally and permanently change Searsport and the surrounding community and that the direct and indirect impacts of the project – including reduced scenic character, loss of recreational opportunities, heavy industrialization, pollution and the intensive truck traffic – will devastate the community and economy of Searsport, destroying their quality of life and making and their homes and businesses unmerchantable.

First, we request that the Army Corps of Engineers conduct a full scale Environmental Impact Study prior to making any decisions regarding this application.  The entire proposed LPG terminal is subject to National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) compliance based on the 404 permitting process.  Virtually all LNG terminals recently proposed for construction in the U.S. have undergone a full scale EIS review, including, for example, the Broadwater, Weavers Cove, Downeast, Creole Trail, Sparrow’s Point, Jordan Cove, and Alaska Gas Pipline LNG proposals.  The proposed Searsport LPG terminal is of same scale and nature of the LNG terminals and is clearly the type of project for which an EIS is normally required. 40 C.F.R. § 1501.4(a)(1).

Second, an town economic impact statement should be conducted at the local level to give the planning board the necessary information it needs to determine permitting standards in Searsport. 

How much property tax would DCP pay ?  …. personal property tax ?
What would be the $$ reduction in revenue sharing from the State?    Loss of property values and subsequent reduction of tax base?   Increased costs to town: safety forces, accelerated deterioration of roads and bridges?
Accelerated deterioration of historic buildings in town   Negative impact on tourism     People not wanting to move to the area making it harder to sell homes     Negative impact to town if Anglers closes ($$ and jobs), including loss of firework displays, chowder for town meeting, etc.  More important, what will be the total economic impact to the town if small, local businesses can’t adapt to becoming an industrial corridor.   Mack point has existed as a utility port until now so local businesses have been able to adjust, even taking some hits, to increased traffic and noise that comes with expanding business. How many can survive the additional truck traffic, noise, smell and uncertain tax situation?

Would other businesses near tank facility/ along Rt.. 1  close or move away?     Would residents near tank move away, if they could sell their homes? 

Collecting the Facts Concerning the BIG TANK Project

• The LPG Tank will be 138ft high and 202 ft. in diameter.  It has the capacity to hold 22.7 million gallons of propane gas very near to Route 1.

Out buildings/ structures include: 

• 90,000-gallon tank of fuel for refrigeration equipment        • 450,000-gallon water tank        • Compressor building is 60’ by 40’ by 50’ high.        • 62-foot high berm wall around entire facility

• 75ft flare up above the top of the tank.  The flare would fire at 234,000,000 btus/hr.  While it is firing, it would be using the equivalent of 2340 household heating systems!  Noise level not identified.

• 24/7 noise pollution from trucks, train and compressors.  Tanker truck filling stations approximately 250 ft. from Rt. 1 and trucks would be filled round the clock (the three DCP filling stations can load nine trucks per hour).

• DCP is permitted for up to 144, 100,000 lb. (50-ton) truck loads a day, allowing 288 truck trips/ day coming and going from the terminal, or one every 5 minutes, 24 hrs/day. To this date no person or body of authority has been identified to oversee or enforce the permit requirements.

• Trucks will clog up traffic and accelerate deterioration of the roads and historic buildings in town.  The Gateway One project concluded that Searsport's Main Street is reaching it's limit.  The DCP project could add an average increase of 30 to 50% of current truck traffic using Mack Point.

• State DOT already lost a Fed. grant for road improvement in Searsport. And, DOT has a large budget shortfall. 

• Propane gas is the most expensive fossil fuel.  The Governor is promoting natural gas pipelines, bio-mass, geothermal and wood pellet technologies.

The emergence of shale gas here has literally bumped LNG to the back burner. Now that the unconventional gas found a mile beneath the earth's surface can by drilled out using hydraulic fracturing, it has changed America’s energy picture. Estimates are that 100 years of the stuff now exists, which has put a damper on LNG imports that were once thought to be the future darling of natural gas.

 (Source: EnergyBiz, Sep 20, 2011)

With an upsurge in shale gas production and rise in the gas liquids output, the US has become self-sufficient in LPG. Further, the US is a propane exporter now. In light of these developments, CMT welcomes Mr. Macgill James, Manager, Waterborne LPG Trading, ConocoPhillips, to present his topic entitled, “Opportunities/Threats Arising from US' Shale Gas Development- On Infrastructure, Production, Exports and Demand Markets.”

Economic Impact

• DCP will pay taxes to Searsport but State may reduce revenue sharing $$$. It tax value of the tank, pipe and out struture has not yet been determined.

• DCP facility will depreciate in value each year along with the other tanks on Mack Point.

• Some property values will go down, tax base will go down, mill rate will have to be raised and taxes may eventually go up.

(Eight years ago when a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal was proposed for Sears Island, an independent economic consulting firm projected at least a 20% collapse in nearby residential property values.  Properties in the direct view-shed were deemed essentially unmarketable.  We expect a similar impact if Big Tank proceeds.) 

• Searsport will very likely have increased costs e.g. security forces, fire department, road and bridge repair.

• Total port activities count for about 14 dollars out of every 100 dollars of taxes collected, but small business account for almost twice that amount, while investment properties and homeowners pay the balance or around 60%. 

• Tourism, small businesses and retirees contribute more to Searsport’s overall economy and tax base than the economic base from industry.

• Amount of taxpayer money that’s already been spent in bonds, grants and other investment vehicles towards the infrastructure on Mack Point and Sears Island - over $50,000,000

• Taxpayer investment in MMA Railroad in 2011 - nearly $22,000,000.

• The industrial corridor, environmental, visual, and other effects of a LPG tank will create a negative impact on tourism and local small businesses.

• DOT and AAA have each re-routed traffic around Searsport during previous construction projects (town sewer lines and Penobscot bridge).  If Routes 1 and 3 are known as truck routes (and there are too many trucks already), DOT and AAA may advise car traffic heading to Acadia, MDI and Down East to stay on I-95 and bypass Rt. 1 up the Mid-Coast. That happened when the Belfast Bridge was undergoing repairs and some businesses east of the bridge folded or had to move.  Also happened doing summer sewer repair projects in Searsport and during the building of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

• Fewer people will move to the region and people may move away, if they can sell their homes.

• Position of tourism as an economic engine in the State of Maine - 1st.

• Number of dollars generated by tourism in the State of Maine in 2010 - $15 billion                                     

• Jobs in tourism-related businesses in 2010 - 176,633   (Bangor Daily News)

• Position of Tourism among fastest growing industries in the State of Maine - 1st.

• Small business, predominantly tourism based, pays a lot of money in taxes, brings the bulk of revenue to the town and employs hundreds of people.

• Number of existing full and part-time employees at Anglers Restaurant, located a few hundred feet from construction site -  45 (35 full time).

• Number of full and part- time jobs DCP says this project will create - 8-12

• Number of positions guaranteed to locals in writing - 0

• Number of temporary construction jobs guaranteed in writing to local residents – 0

• Today we export $5 billion a year from our economy to import 85 percent of the energy we use and we are poorer for it.


Facts from Census information

fuel cost

Heating oil has 135,000 to 140,000 BTU's per gallon, propane has 91,500/600
BTU's per gallon, so there is much more energy per gallon in oil than
propane,  +53%.


Image courtesy of:


Safety and Security

- Potential for more accidents on Rt. 1 due to increased truck traffic.

- A propane tanker gas truck explosion can incinerate everything within a one mile radius.

- A Tank truck can hold up to 17,000 gallons of gas in Maine

- A Railcar tanker can hold up to 30,000 gallons of gas

- Distance of Big Tank project from a chemical storage facility, GAC - 5,000 feet.

GAC Facts ……… 150 acres with 10,000 feet of track. A million-and-a-half gallons of liquid storage and other warehouse space.  “Maine’s chemical company”    GAC website

-Clay slurry company on Searsport's Mack Point now owned by Imerys, a mineral-processing corporation based in France.

-Searsport is located on a geological fault line.

- Two mile radius.  Minimum distance of houses and business from a similar sized tank facility in Tampa, FL.  In Searsport there are houses and businesses within yards, not miles of the proposed project

- Searsport has a volunteer fire department and four full-time police officers.

- RSU 20 has been preparing for tsunamis as a worst case scenario.  School buses are designated for evacuation vehicles for students and the infirm and elderly.

-Searsport currently has no warning system for a hazmat related accident.

- DCP was set up as a limited liability company. ConocoPhillips/Spectra Energy may be sheltered from full liabilities in the event of a serious accident.

- DCP likes Searsport because “population densities along the route are small and ship transit does not come close to a large urban area.”   From DCP permit application

Fires and explosions resulting from LPG rail tanker derailments and truck tanker road accidents are quite common. The federal government has assumed safety jurisdiction of such shipments, and local and state agencies cannot impede such interstate commerce.

-James Fay, a MIT professor and expert on fluid dynamics.

Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland County has recorded 271 hazardous material accidents on the roads of in over the past 10 years, according to a recent study.  Some 88 train accidents have occurred, but none involved hazardous materials.  The AAR says that while rail carries more such material nationally, train shipments are routed along the safest and most secure rail lines, so there are fewer accidents.  {Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (11/15)} 

Facts from Emergency TBNT Group due 126/2012

Quality of Life

- 23 +/- acres of coastal forest and wetlands will be removed.  75’ flare burn-off noise not determined.

- The tank will tower about 100 ft. above the tree line polluting the view-shed in all directions. 

- Security lights will flood the area at night as required by homeland security requirements.  A light plan has not yet been submitted as of 1/22/2012.

- There will be 108+ tons of air pollution annually from the facility alone.  No estimate or review has been done on the pollution levels brought by loading all of the propane tanker trucks in Maine in one location.

DCP's permit application states: "No action would avoid all of the direct environmental impacts that would be associated with the proposed project.”

-Maine residents cut their heating oil use by 45 percent between 2004 and 2009

More About What Is LPG?

LPG is one of the components of natural gas and crude oil. It is a byproduct of petroleum refining and petrochemical processing, and is a component of natural gas that is removed when natural gas from gas wells is prepared for pipeline distribution to consumers. These products are called Natural Gas Liquids and consist of ethane, propane, and butane. Their principal use is for the manufacture of petrochemicals.  LPG consists principally of propane and LNG of methane.

LPG is stored as a pressurized liquid at atmospheric temperature for distribution to consumers, almost entirely by road vehicle or barge. When shipped by seagoing tanker, it is stored at atmospheric pressure in refrigerated tanks at sub-atmospheric temperature.

LPG shipments by sea are very rare. There is an LPG import terminal in Portsmouth greater harbor. One in Boston was shut down some years ago. Most LPG from U. S. oil refineries is shipped to distributors by rail or barge. Given the limited market for LPG in Maine, it is surprising that anyone is proposing a terminal for Mack Point.  (If Maine currently has a surplus of gas who will be buying…Canada?)


Thanks But No Tank (“TBNT”) is a coalition of residents and small business owners living and working in the Searsport region that seek to support, protect, and maintain the region’s economy, environment, scenic character and quality of life.  TBNT’s members are concerned that the safety and security impacts of the proposed DCP LPG Terminal and associated ship and rail traffic, as well as the excessive light, visual, noise, and air pollution, would severely, adversely and unduly affect their homes, businesses, environment community and quality of life.