Apr 26, 2012

Army Corps of Engineers: No public hearing on controversial LPG tank proposal in Searsport

The Army Corps of Engineers will not hold a  public hearing on the controversial plan by DCP Midstream to build and operate a 22 million dollar liquified petroleum terminal and tankfarm on forested wetlands within the Mack Point Forest perched above Searsport Harbor's Long Cove.

This was announced in an April 24, 2012 letter postal mailed to interested parties by Jay Clement of the Corps' Maine Projects Office. The letter was accompanied by a 5 page "Determination of Need"  signed by  Deputy District Engineer Steven M. Howell.. See original letter & Determination here

The decision means the Corps of Engineers will rely on the information  sent it by opponents and supporters of the 22 million gallon tank to make its decision on whether to allow the flattening and paving over of nearly all of the 30 acre Mack Point Forest  and the installation there of New England's biggest liquified petroleum tank

The Determination of Need noted that the Corps of Engineers would continue to accept written and emailed comments up to the day it makes its final decision.

 Lt Col Howell wrote that the Corps decided not to hold a public hearing: "because through the Corps public comment process, we have sufficient information to adequately evaluate the issues relating to the proposed activity".   Clement wrote  "We are now conducting a final review of this project to determine whether issuance of a permit is in the overall public interest."

Howell wrote that the Corps received  211 letters or emails in opposition to the DCP project, and 135 in support of the DCP project.  22 of the opponents' letters included requests that the Corps hold public hearings 


He wrote that tank opponents raised 19 issues, while supporters raised seven.


How summarized opponents issues as
1.) Wetlands. The project will permanently impact aquatic resources on site
including wetlands that serve important functions and values. The proposed
compensatory mitigation is insufficient to address the project’s wetland impact. There
was also some question whether the scope of wetland impact was accurately described.

2.) Wildlife. There is important wildlife habitat that will be adversely affected by
clearing and development of the site.

3.) Tidal resources. The project could adversely affect intertidal and sub-tidal
resources within Long Cove including lobsters, shellfish beds, and eelgrass. The project
could have further reaching effects to marine resources and fishing in Penobscot Bay.

4.) Historic properties. There could be archeological or historic sites on site that
will be adversely affected by the development. There are historic properties within the
community that are threatened by increased truck traffic or a catastrophe

5.) Safety. The presence of a tank of this size, just off Route l poses a safety
risk, particularly in the event of a catastrophic fire or explosion. Increased truck traffic in
the area could threaten public safety. Local emergency responders are ill equipped to
handle an emergency of any magnitude.

6.) Pollution. The operation of the facility will result in air, water, noise, and
light pollution. This is particularly relevant to the proposed emergency flare.

7.) Aesthetics. The size and height of the tank and appurtenant facilities will
adversely affect the views from Route l, Sears Island, and nearby communities. There
will be insufficient buffers to the site. Is there a long-term plan for decommissioning and
removal of the tank? ‘

8.) Economics. The limited number of jobs created by the facility will not
mitigate for the anticipated loss of tourist dollars and economic impact to the community

and surrounding region. Increased truck traffic could adversely affect local businesses.
A request was made for an economic study of the impact of the project.

9.) Geotechnical. There is a geologic fault in the area that could present a safety
hazard to the proposed tank.

10.) Sears Island. The passive recreational use of Sears Island could be adversely
affected by further industrialization of Mack Point. There were multiple references to the
construction of the Sears Island Causeway by the Corps and its impact to marine
resources.

11.) Traffic. The project could result in an excessive increase in truck traffic in
the region with associated degradation of existing roads and quality of life. Rail traffic
could also increase.

I2.) Security. The presence of the proposed tank could attract terrorists. An
attack on the tank could cause catastrophic fire or explosion. This factor, plus
exacerbating our dependency on foreign supplies of fossil fuels, may adversely affect
National Security. There was an objection to imports of propane from countries like
Afghanistan.

13.) Navigation/Recreation. Recreational and commercial boaters currently
using Searsport Harbor and surrounding waters could be adversely affected by LPG
vessels at anchor and their associated security zones.

14.) Property values. The presence of the tank and associated operations in the
community could result in a lowering of property values.

15.) Need. There is insufficient demand for propane in Maine and ample supply
such that the project is not necessary.

16.) Industrialization. The tank facility adds to the overall industrialization of
Mack Point and could lead to future industrialization in the area.

17.) General Environmental Impact. An Environmental Impact Statement and
full NEPA review should be performed by the Corps.

18.) Scope of Environmental Review. The Corps should consider the entire
facility, not just the fill of wetlands, in its NEPA review.

19.) Compliance. There was some reference to the environmental and safety
 compliance track record of the applicant and the industry in general elsewhere in the
country.

Howell summarized supporters' issues as :

1.) Jobs. The development will create much needed construction and operations
jobs. Operation of the facility will also result in secondary economic benefit to the
community and the region.

2.) Gas supply. The project will result in a more reliable and stable propane
supply for Maine consumers.

3.) Fuel source. Propane constitutes a cleaner alternative to traditional heating oil
and is an important element of Maine’s energy mix.

4.) Mack Point. It is appropriate to site such a facility at Mack Point, already an
Industrialized site.

5.) Traffic. The increase in traffic from the project will be inconsequential.

6.) Water. The applicant will facilitate improvements to the municipal water
system that will benefit the entire community (The Searsport Water District).

7.) Natural Areas. There are no rare botanical features that will be disturbed by
the project (Maine Dept. of Conservation, Natural Areas Program)

WHAT NEXT?   .
Write the Corps! According to Howell, "The Corps will consider relevant new information or circumstances  that may arise  prior to a final decision on the permit application."

It you have  relevant new information about what is threatened by the proposal or know of  circumstances  that may arise that make it nonsensical for this LPG tank to be set up in Searsport, the Corps wants to know. Write or email to Jay Clement: with your info 

Jay Clement   
US Army Corps of Engineers
Maine Project Office 
675 Western Avenue #3 
Manchester, Maine 04351
207-623-8367
jay.l.clement@usace.army.mil











1 comment:

Anandengineers said...

The project could adversely affect intertidal and sub-tidal
resources within Long Cove including lobsters. Gas Pipeline Delhi