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5/30/2012 5:43:00 PM
Searsport Should Consider Consequences of Proceeding Unilaterally with Permitting Massive LPG Storage Tank -

Open letter to Mr. Gillway and Searsport Selectmen:

This is to express my concern regarding an important issue that seems not to have been considered in planning for the construction by DCP Midstream (now DCP Searsport?) of a massive LPG storage facility at Mack Point.

Typically, the permitting of a new project is a matter that concerns only the town in which the project is to be undertaken. Such localized projects present few or no potentially negative repercussions for neighboring towns, and therefore it is generally unnecessary to engage neighboring towns in the planning process or to give them an opportunity to air any concerns they might have prior to permitting and finalization of the project in question.

In the instance of the 22.7 million gallon LPG storage tank proposed for Mack Point, however, it seems clear that Sears-

port is the only town that stands to benefit materially from the project, whereas the project's potential for adverse impacts on adjacent towns is substantial. The failure of the town of Searsport to engage its neighboring towns in discussions concerning a project that will be of no benefit, and could be of significant harm, to them could therefore lead to serious legal difficulties for Searsport if, in fact, the tank is built and put into operation.

Among such potential impacts are the following:

1. Increased congestion along Routes US 1 and 1A and Maine 3 due to frequent tanker truck traffic. As you know, these roads are "Main Street" for a large percentage of midcoast residents.

2. Accelerated deterioration of the surfaces of these roads outside of Searsport. Who will pay for this?

3. Depression of property values throughout the affected area, especially for those properties from which the tank would be visible. Who compensates the landowners?

4. Suppression of the tourist trade due to the preceding three factors, causing economic loss to tourism-dependent businesses. Again, who compensates for such losses?

5. Suppression of real estate sales and concomitant reduction in home values due to concern by potential buyers about the abovementioned factors and the threat of explosions of the tank and of tanker trucks. My wife personally knows someone who has decided not to buy a home in Stockton Springs because of the tank, and I have heard from sources I trust that many Searsport properties have gone on the market as a direct result of the tank project. If true, how will this affect your tax base?

6. Catastrophic economic losses resulting from LPG BLEVE explosions, which could be triggered by a large variety of causes, including lightning strikes, earthquakes, thixotropic soil movement in the post-glacial Presumpscot clay formation surrounding the tank, ease of access by terrorists, prolonged power outages and human error. The only other comparable tank of which I am aware, located in Tampa, Florida, is surrounded by a two-mile-wide uninhabited exclusion zone, and for good reason.

In consideration of the foregoing, it seems to me that the town of Searsport is assuming a very great risk in unilaterally permitting and finalizing this project without soliciting the input of surrounding municipalities. Searsport residents (at least those who were sufficiently informed in time) have signed off on it, but residents of surrounding towns have not. As things stand, the only available recourse for non-Searsport residents to redress such potential losses as are enumerated above would be class-action litigation against DCP and against the town of Searsport, and increasingly, I hear talk of such action, and I see people organizing for that eventuality.

I sincerely hope that you will take the more prudent course and carefully consider the unpromising consequences for the town of Searsport of proceeding unilaterally with the DCP project. Specifically, I hope that you will see fit to postpone the finalization of this project until your neighboring towns have had an opportunity to assess the implications of the project for their future safety and well-being.

David Laing, Stockton Springs

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012
Article comment by: Arlene Leighton

The correct link to proposed Searsport LPG tank viewshed. Click on visibility cloak to see where can can be seen.

Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012
Article comment by: Arlene Leighton

As a resident of Lincolnville, I agree with David Laing, Stockton Springs, regarding the need for towns in the surrounding areas to have a voice whether or not this project goes forward. Many questions regarding safety and environmental impact have NOT been addressed. If you are interested in an estimate of the visual impact of proposed tank go to This is a rough estimate but a more accurate depiction of its impact than what was provided by Midstream DCP.

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