|6/6/2012 3:05:00 PM|
Searsport Moving Forward on Building Large Propane Tank, Opposition Grows
Next meeting, June 11
|by Christine Parrish|
Searsport officials met with representatives of DCP Midstream
on Monday night, June 4, to review the company's application to build a
23-million-gallon propane storage facility at Mack Point.
Midstream plans to finance the project itself at a cost of $40 million.
When complete, it would be the largest propane tank in the country. The
company hopes to start building later this year, with a targeted finish
date 18 months after construction begins.
Monday night, the goal of the planning board was to determine if the
application submitted by DCP Midstream was complete, including permits
from state and federal agencies.
It was not complete.
Critically, the application was missing a gas storage tank permit
from the Maine Fuel Board. The permit hinges on a Fire Safety Analysis
and a site inspection before and after construction to meet federal fire
safety laws, according to Peter Holmes, a senior inspector at the Maine
Typically, a developer hires an
engineering firm to conduct the Fire Safety Analysis, which includes an
analysis of existing and potential hazards in the development area and
on nearby properties and an evaluation of the capabilities of local
emergency response resources, according to Holmes. The analysis is not
open-ended: it follows a set format.
application was also missing some minor but important documentation,
including the square footage of each individual building and structure
proposed for the development and written documents to town officials and
abutting property owners informing them of the development.
On several occasions Kristin Collins, the attorney hired by the town to
advise the planning board, pointedly advised them to seek more
information from the applicant. At more than one point, Collins urged
them to make a motion to require more specific and easily accessible
information in the application.
briefly turned to an impact review on Route 1. A DCP spokesman said he
saw no need for further traffic studies since they anticipated no new
"There is a lot of concern about
Route 1, but there are no municipal funds that go to Route 1," said
Searsport Planning Board Chairman Bruce Probert, noting that a traffic
study would cost $2,500 to $3,000 a week and the town does not have
jurisdiction over Route 1.
planning board briefly discussed hiring an outside consultant to review
the application. At one point, Probert asked the representatives from
DCP Midstream what they thought about the suitability of a particular
DCP Midstream has no say in who the
town chooses as a consultant, but is responsible for paying for their
services in conducting a peer review.
interjected, saying the planning board could take up discussions about
whether to hire an engineering consultant and who to hire at the next
planning board meeting.
Probert said he expects
the planning board to decide whether the application is complete or not
at the next planning board meeting, which is scheduled for June 11.
That meeting, which will include a public comment session, is expected
to be heavily attended. It will not take the place of a public hearing,
which has not yet been scheduled.
application is deemed complete, the planning board begins reviewing the
contents of the application and must schedule a public hearing within 30
days. Probert said that town ordinances provide the opportunity to hire
an outside consultant at any time during the review process, but
Collins suggested that the decision on whether or not to hire an outside
consultant be made explicit as soon as possible.
Bearor, a Bangor attorney with Rudman Winchell who is representing
Thanks, But No Tank, a citizen group that is seeking a comprehensive
analysis of the impact of the development on the Penobscot Bay area,
agreed that an outside consultant could be hired any time during the
review process, but that it made more sense to do so now, since hiring a
consultant later would be more expensive.
way, said Bearor, he thought it unlikely the planning board could call
the permit application complete until they got the Maine Fuel Board
permit, which will take a couple of months, at a minimum.
I expect the public process will go on for a long time," said Bearor,
noting that one case he represented in Southwest Harbor went on for
Stephen Hinchman, a Bath attorney
who specializes in environmental law and who also represents Thanks, But
No Tank, said the Maine Superior Court appeal of the Maine Department
of Environmental Protection permits for the DCP Midstream development
were pending, with a decision likely within the next 30 to 90 days.
said he thinks it's likely the DEP permits will be found to have been
fast-tracked and issued without the information required under federal
At the same time, Islesboro officials have
spearheaded an effort to urge towns in Knox and Waldo counties to weigh
in on the proposed development and pressure the town of Searsport to
seek a comprehensive economic, environmental, and cultural review of the
When asked if lawsuits against the town were pending, Bearor said, "Not yet."
next planning board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, June 11, in
Searsport in Union Hall, above the town office. It will include a
public comment period.
Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2012
Article comment by:
documents from the Maine Geological Survey, I found today that the
western shore of Long Cove, on which the Searsport tank is proposed to
be located, is mapped as 'unstable' and a 'potential landslide hazard'
zone, a rather unsettling finding when considering a storage facility
that is designed to contain at least as much energy as 33
Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. The pertinent documents can be viewed at:
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