Nov 23, 2011

Newspaper: Propane proposal pulls protesters to Searsport

Belfast Republican Journal 11/22/11
Propane proposal pulls protesters to Searsport By Steve Fuller | Nov 22, 2011

Photo by: Steve Fuller Many of the people who attended Saturday's protest carried signs showing their opposition to the proposed tank project.

SearsportThe corner of Station Avenue and Route 1 was a busy location Saturday afternoon, Nov. 19, as approximately 100 people held signs, made speeches and otherwise expressed their opposition to a proposal to build a large propane storage tank a stone's throw from where they stood.

Signs seen at Saturday's protest ranged from the straightforward — "No LPG [Liquefied Petroleum Gas] Tank at Mack Point" — to the sensational, such as the sign that asked, "Are your children in the incineration zone?", referring to the area that would be impacted if a fuel storage tank were to blow up.
Organizers estimated the size of the crowd at anywhere from 75 to 100 people, and though the attendance fluctuated throughout the two-hour protest, an informal count seemed to show those figures were accurate.

Peter Wilkinson of Belfast addressed the crowd early on and said he didn't expect so many people would turn out on a cold fall afternoon. He said he hoped the protest would prove to be the first of many in opposition to what he called a "monster tank," one he said "nobody needs and nobody wants."

DCP Midstream, a Colorado-based company, announced almost a year ago that it was interested in building a 137-foot-tall, 22.7-million-gallon tank at Mack Point. The project has been given the green light by both the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Department of Environmental protection, while approval from other agencies (such as the Coast Guard) is pending.

The Searsport Planning Board has yet to make a decision on the proposal because DCP has yet to file an official application with the town. Although an ordinance change allowing for taller structures was approved at Searsport's annual town meeting in March of this year, some people — Searsport residents, as well as people in neighboring communities and around the Midcoast — believe the project has moved along too quickly, and are now seeking to at least delay any final approval of the project until questions about safety, economic impact and other subjects can be addressed.

In Searsport, residents have started a petition campaign seeking a town vote on whether to impose a moratorium on developments such as the one DCP is proposing. For those living in other communities — only registered voters in Searsport can sign the petition — Saturday's protest allowed them a chance to voice their opinion and express their various concerns about the project.

Some, like Diane Messer of Liberty, spoke about other fossil fuel projects, such as the proposed tar sand pipelines from Canada into the U.S. Messer said she was there in "solidarity" with the tank protesters.

Others, like Searsport resident Daniel Berg, voiced their frustration that most decisions relating to the project were being voted on by appointed officials, rather than elected representatives, or citizens themselves.  "This seems to be a travesty of democracy," said Berg, who said he had contacted the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

Astrig Tanguay, one of the organizers of the "Thanks But No Tank" group and a co-owner of Searsport Shores Campground, spoke about the economic impact the proposed tank might have on Searsport. While DCP has said the project would bring approximately a dozen full-time jobs (and more construction jobs, while the tank was being built), Tanguay and others expressed concerns that existing jobs would be lost due to a decrease in tourism.

She said increased truck traffic and associated safety concerns, in addition to the visual impact of the tank itself, would turn upper Penobscot Bay into an "industrialized zone."
Tourists, Tanguay said, would likely opt to head from Maine's southern beaches to Acadia National Park via Interstate 95, rather than across Route 3 and then along Route 1 through the Midcoast, if the tank were built.

"If we become known as the town with a tank, then people won't bother with Belfast," Tanguay said. "It is definitely an economic issue."

Ron Huber, who has actively campaigned for the preservation of nearby Sears Island and has opposed other large industrial efforts in the past (such as a proposed LNG facility), also spoke Saturday afternoon. Tanguay introduced him as "the guy who got our butts in gear," and he spoke about the importance of natural resources and nearby historic Native American sites.

"People are important," said Huber, acknowledging the concerns previous speakers had expressed about the proposed project's potential impact on humans, "but I'm always here on the side of nature, too."

Reactions to the proposed tank project from other people at Saturday's event included words such as "catastrophic," "horrified" and "disgusting."

Organizers said given the short timeframe in which the protest was planned — about two weeks, using Facebook, photocopied fliers and word-of-mouth — they were pleased with the turnout.
"I think it's a spectacular display of public outrage," said Wilkinson. "It's very significant."

Tanguay said the next step would be to present Searsport selectmen with the petition calling for the moratorium. She anticipated that happening at the next regularly scheduled selectmen's meeting, set for Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Other protests are a possibility, as well. Earlier in the event, when Tanguay cited what she described as a less-than-supportive reaction from State Senator Mike Thibodeau, the suggestion was offered that the next protest could be held in front of Thibodeau's residence in Winterport. Another protester was heard suggesting that Thibodeau be recalled from office.

Although protesters often found themselves standing in the street due to limited space on the shoulder of the road, traffic seemed to flow smoothly as people moved out of the way as needed. Searsport Police Officer Eric Bonney briefly addressed the group midway through the protest, saying his only request was that people stay out of the road.

Noting that Bonney was the only law enforcement official there, Wilkinson quipped that the lawman was outnumbered, but people in attendance generally complied with Bonney's request, and no one seemed to complain about it.

Mack Point Forest - Let's protect irreplaceable forested coastal wetlands

Saving the Mack Point Forest and its Coastal Wetlands Location and Site maps

Maine Wetlands and their Boundaries: a Guide for Code Enforcement Officers

Identifying Hydric Soils - wetlands soils 

Wetlands Study for Thanks But No Tank

Maine Wetlands Species Identifiers
* Forested swamps
* Forested floodplain wetlands
* Vernal Pools
* Shrub Swamps
* Vernal pool identification guidelines (Massachusetts)

Nov 20, 2011

DCP Midstream tank plan protest draws more than 100 in Searsport

Judy Kaiser, 70, of Waldo, stood in the cold Saturday in Searsport to protest a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town.

Posted Nov. 19, 2011, at 4:43 p.m.
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Judy Kaiser, 70, of Waldo, stood in the cold Saturday in Searsport to protest a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town. 

SEARSPORT, Maine — More than 100 people stood on the side of Route 1 by an Irving gas station Saturday to protest a plan to build a $40 million, 138-foot-tall liquid propane terminal at Mack Point. Vehicles driving by — including at least one Shell fuel truck — honked with support.
One protester was 70-year-old Judy Kasier of Waldo, who waved her handmade “No Tank” sign at people who drove by. “I came here today because I am outraged at the possibility there might be such an industrial project in midcoast Maine where we rely so heavily on tourism,” Kaiser said Saturday.

There are already several fuel storage tanks in the area, but this one, if approved by the town planning board, would be much taller.

“The beauty of the harbor will be ruined,” Kaiser said. “It will be so huge and so tall you will be able to see it from Acadia National Park. It will ruin our coastline.”

Earlier this fall, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection gave approval for DCP Midstream’s plans for Mack Point.

Randall Parr, 67, of Appleton, shouted through half a milk gallon to a crowd of protesters. About 100 people gathered in Searsport on Saturday to rally against a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town.Randall Parr, 67, of Appleton, shouted through half a milk gallon to a crowd of protesters. About 100 people gathered in Searsport on Saturday to rally against a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town. Buy Photo

On Saturday afternoon, protesters signed a petition to try to stop the tank from getting town approval. According to Astrig Tanguay, 45, of Searsport, the petition will ask that the town declare a moratorium on building tanks until an impact study can be conducted.
Tanguay, a local business owner, fears the huge tank will dramatically increase truck traffic and make coastal Route 1 less desirable for tourists to drive on. If traffic gets rerouted, Searsport businesses might miss out on tourists’ shopping stops.

“A lot of people still come through here to get to Mount Desert Island. If this tank is built, they might go through Bangor,” she said.

David Berg, 66, of Searsport had a similar complaint.

“I moved here from New York because of the natural beauty. This will ruin it. This is so different from the tanks already at Mack Point,” Berg said at the protest.

Berg also worried about the safety of having a large propane tank in town.

The company proposing the tank, DCP Midstream, responded to protesters’ worries about safety, truck traffic and how large the tank would be in a full-page advertisement in the Bangor Daily on Saturday.

According to the company, the tank would add 50 truck trips a day in the town. The tank would have tree buffers and wouldn’t stand out much more than the tanks already at the site, the company president, Bill Waldheim, wrote to Searsport residents in the ad. Waldheim also said that federal and local regulations would ensure that the tank is safe and not emitting too much noise, light or odor. The company wrote that Maine is dependent on propane and needs a supply in the area.

Protesters plan to present the petition to stop the project to the town on Dec. 13.


MORE INFO:  http// 

Nov 19, 2011

If you love Penobscot Bay, come to Searsport today at 1pm. Stand up against DCP's LPG Gas tank plan! (picture is crude approximatiion).
Where: 1pm Route 1 and Station Avenue - just past the Irving Oil station.
The forest next to you is the one that DCP Midstream gas company wants to flatten and replace with the biggest liquified gas tank in the northeast United States. Got drums? Good! Bring'em! Signs  guitars songs..Bring them Speak for the forest, the bay and the people

Nov 16, 2011

Belfasters speak out against DCP supertank plan. Audio.

At the November 15, 2011  Belfast City Council Meeting, three Belfast residents spoke out with their concerns about the proposed LPG super tank in nearby Searsport. And the City Councilors listened and replied. Listen to them, below.

City Council members questioned the speakers and  raised their own questions and concerns about how the project is moving along under the radar and whether or not the entire decision, with its many implications for Belfast, and other towns up and down Penobscot Bay, should rest with the small town of Searsport.

Council meeting introduction and Jane Sanford of Belfast(2 minutes)

Phyllis Coelho of Belfast  (5 minutes)

Belfast councilors discuss issues raised by Sanford and Coelho (15 minutes)

Peter Wilkinson of Belfast describes regional scale of issues, upcoming events. Councilors Q&A (19 minutes)

Jane Sanford  and close of discussion on DCP issues (1minute)

Nov 11, 2011

Fury in Maine as Denver company proposes New England's biggest gas tank in heart of scenic tourism area.

As reported in the Denver Post, plans by Denver-based natural gas distributor DCP Midstream to set up a large LPG gas storage tank on the coast of Maine have run into a buzzsaw of opposition from businesses making up the area's very profitable coastal tourism industry.

Opponents of DCP's plan to build and operate a 22.7 million gallon liquified petroleum gas (LPG) tank and terminal in the scenic Penobscot bay town of Searsport  say the company's proposed tank - biggest ever in the Northeast - is simply too far out of scale with existing energy companies using the town port to be acceptable.  At meeting after meeting, the residents of  Searsport, Stockton Springs, Belfast and even movie-star-laden Islesboro are marshalling their resources.

"We need to be careful that industry does not drive away tourism," wrote Tom Goscze of the grassroots group Thanks But No Tank! in an op-ed piece in the Bangor Daily News.   "Let’s make sure that we are not destroying our property values and safety for a couple jobs from importing the most expensive fossil fuel on the market."

"Searsport has two oil and gasoline tank farms," said Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch, a regional conservation group, "but those companies, Irving Oil and Sprague Energy, have kept their operations low profile. They do not inflict themselves on the scenic viewsheds of the Penobscot Bay region."  By contrast, Huber said, " DCP Midstream's supertank is five times taller, and would hulk over the skylines of at least a dozen bay towns. It would be a visible eyesore from as far away as Acadia National Park  and Baxter State Park, and a heck of a lot of lesser parks and resorts in the region."

The natural forested mountain viewshed of upper Penobscot Bay is a major selling point for more than a dozen towns' myriads of  tourism-dependent businesses. As far as the businesses of Searsport, Belfast and other bay towns  are concerned, Huber said, " DCP Midstream is lobbing a giant stink bomb at Midcoast Maine, and insisting it's Chanel # 5".

Just as temper-raising have been Homeland Security considerations. The giant tank would rear up literally a stone's throw from US Rte 1. "Its hard to find a less secure location on the Atlantic coast for one of these supertanks" Huber observed, noting that a would-be terrorist   would have no barriers to carrying out an infamous act that could devastate at least three towns

The company's hapless public relations crew has been reduced to trotting out such uncompelling bromides as "Safety is our Core Value!"  and "We would live and work there, too!", ( the latter utterance not too convincingly put forward by DCP  spokesperson Lisa Newkirk, who has evinced no interest in relocating there herself.)

As aired in the feisty Penobscot Bay Blog, local citizens and businesses are gearing up for what may be lengthy appeals fights.  But before that begins,  Bay Watch's Huber said, Mark Borer, Angela Minas and Michael Richards, the president and top VPs of DCP Midstream, should stop by some of the Maine resorts that their proposed LPG tank could ruin. "The few jobs that the tank facility would generate is nothing," Huber said, "compared to the thousands of small business livelihoods that will be lost if DCP's gigantic industrial tank plops down in the midst of this scenic gem."  

Useful Links

Penobscot Bay Watch. (207) 593-2744

Thanks But No Tank! 207548-6059

Media Coverage of this issue so far (google news aggregator)

# # #

Maine's upcoming 2012 shrimping season: harvest tonnage cut in half.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Northern Shrimp Section  has announced a total allowable catch (TAC) of 2,000 metric tons, (approximately 70 million individual shrimps) with the season closing when landings are projected to reach 95 percent of the TAC (1,900 mt).   

See youtube video of a Maine shrimping haul  (shrimp come aboard at the 7 minute mark)

Patrick Keliher, Maine's interim Commissioner of Marine Resources, said to FIS that the government will be monitoring the catch on a weekly basis to ascertain that fishers do not catch too many northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) and that they do not reach the quota limit too soon. Some 85-90 per cent of shrimp caught in the Gulf of Maine are landed in Maine.

Given the favorable stock condition of the last two years, the Section set relatively long fishing seasons in an effort to accommodate industry's demands for expanded fishing opportunities," stated Section Chair Doug Grout from New Hampshire.

ASMFC's Shrimp Section head blamed the fishermen's overkill of shrimp during the last two years.  "Unfortunately, substantial increases in both effort and participation resulted in early season closures and significant overages in both seasons – 28 per cent and 48 per cent overharvest in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, respectively. Consequently, the stock of this crustacean is now overfished and overfishing is occurring, requiring a shortened season and limited fishing opportunities in 2012," he explained.

A virtual Gulf of Maine - game designers needed.

WANTED: computer game designer for a Virtual Gulf of Maine game, rich w/ habitat & seasonal species, from whales to plankton, with details mapped onto its bathymetry.  A crude short animation of this water body exists.  (1.7mb mpg)  Data of wind, of the tides and currents is available; the seasonal wanderings of the fishes too are known and available for prospective GOM Game developers. Can you weave them together?
IF YOU can stitch those many threads together into a seamless whole, what kid won't want to learn about  the Gulf of Maine while swimming (and feasting) through it as a blue shark? Or soaring above it as an osprey? Or as a harpoon-wielding swordfish stalker? The more indolently inclined will sedately explore the Gulf of Maine in the  personae of a leatherback turtle or a Lion's Mane jellyfish.  But all of them will see what it is to be one of those wild beings. From such may tomorrow's oceanographers and marine biologists come.

If you want to help recreate the Gulf of Maine and the great wild Atlantis that lives beneath its waves, contact the Bay Blog

Nov 9, 2011

Look out Maine: DCP Midstream's PR machine starts outgassing

 Here's the public relations machine of Big Gasser DCP Midstream, refusing to talk about how many  area residents could get asphyxiated or incinerated if their supertank or one of their trucks ever blew out. "We don''t like to speculate" they said.  In so many words,  the greenwashers are telling us: "Don't worry be happy. Our mega-corporation cares about you."    Yeah, right. Sure you do.

"DCP Midstream: 'Safety is our core value' "By Tanya Mitchell,  Belfast Republican Journal  11/09/1

This sketch, which was shown as part of the Nov. 2 slide show presentation that was hosted by the local coalition known as "Thanks but no Tank" in Searsport, depicts the storage tank that Colorado-based DCP Midstream opes to build at Mack Point.

 Denver — A spokesperson for the Colorado company that hopes to build a 137-foot-tall liquefied petroleum gas storage tank at Mack Point suggested locals who are worried about safety should consider the company's reputation throughout the industry.

In response to concerns that were discussed at two recent meetings hosted by a local coalition known as "Thanks but no Tank", Lisa Newkirk with DCP Midstream said the company has a "solid reputation" for maintaining safe operations.

"I can tell you we have highly trained personnel and that we partner with local [emergency] responders," said Newkirk.

Newkirk denied claims made by some at the meetings, who questioned if the company chose Searsport because it has a relatively low population and would result in fewer deaths in the event of an accident. If the company were to obtain all the permits it needs to move forward with its plans in Searsport, Newkirk said the company's own employees would then become members of the same community.

"It's not just an operation to us, it would also be the home of our future employees; we would live and work there, too," she said. "Safety is our core value."

Newkirk echoed earlier comments made by fellow DCP Midstream spokeswoman Roz Elliott, who said the benefits of the company building a terminal in Searsport are many.

"Because it has an existing dock," said Elliott. "And the community is aware of what it's like to have ship traffic."

Elliott also stated that while bringing in an LPG terminal would provide a boost to Searsport's tax base and provide jobs, it is an equally important development for the entire state in terms of having a steady propane supply available.

"We've had some cold winters, and it's been challenging at times," she said. "There have been times when the supply in Canada has been constrained."

Mack Point, Elliott said, is a desirable location because it has access to rail, marine and truck transportation as well as a nearby pipeline. Elliott estimated that the DCP terminal would bring between five and six ships a year to Mack Point, a place that she said routinely accommodates between 130 and 150 ships annually.

All DCP Midstream employees would be subjected to a complete training program that Newkirk said holds to the company's high standards of operation. Employees are required to undergo training each year in order to earn annual certifications in their respective fields.

In addition, Newkirk said all of the company's facilities are equipped with emergency shut-down systems and emergency shut-down valves that are located in several key locations around the sites. Newkirk said the shut-down systems are designed to work manually or automatically, in the event that an employee is unable to activate it.

Each facility is also outfitted with backup generators that kick on in the event of a power outage, as well as what Newkirk described as a fixed fire water system, which provides water at access points throughout the plant.

"We can secure a plant in less than 30 seconds, and often in less than 10 seconds," said Newkirk.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also regulates the industry, said Newkirk, and has strict procedures for safety management including rules dictating the maintenance of equipment, storage tanks and other areas of the facilities.

"We will spend the resources necessary to make sure that our facility is in nothing less than good working order," she said.

Newkirk added that those efforts to keep all of their facilities in safe working order and its employees well-trained has not gone unnoticed. In 2010 DCP Midstream was the recipient of the Canadian National Railway Safe Handling Award for the third straight year.

Looking back on the history of the propane industry in the United States, Newkirk said propane terminals have been operating without incident for the last 40 years.

The likelihood that DCP Midstream will be able to build at Mack Point remains unclear, but Newkirk confirmed that the company has received final approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The project has also gained approval from the Maine Department of Transportation earlier this fall. Approval from other state and federal agencies, said Newkirk, is still pending.

"We're still working through the permitting process," she said.

When asked if the company had specific data on what the worst-case scenario might be in the event of a fire or explosion at one of their facilities, Newkirk reiterated the company's commitment to safety and declined to answer the question directly.

"We don't like to speculate," she said.

Stopping the DCP juggernaut: media coverage

Newspapers, Television, Radio. & Op-Eds relating to DCP Midstream's plan to build an LPG terminal.

Pick a media variety and read,  watch or listen to the tales of Mainers standing up against the  designs of  Colorado natural gas  tank outfit DCP Midstream - whose management erroneously thought that such citizenry could be easily rolled over .                         
Surprise surprise! As a glance through the media outlets below will show you, all is not going as the gas-baggers wish:  Google news links on issue


Republican Journal  Tank opponents appeal to officials in Searsport and Belfast

Republican Journal  "DCP Midstream claim:  'Safety is our core value'. 11/9/11

Republican Journal Tank forum fuels talk of tourism versus big industry  11/8/11 (corrected)

Denver Post Denver's DCP learns that in Maine when proposing new tanks size matters. 11/7/11

WABI TV Searsport Propane Terminal Has Folks in Town Talking. by Laura Roberts - 11/3/11

WCSH TV Searsport talks propane tank  11/03/11 

WERU Community Radio interviews Tom Goscze 11/02/11. 22 minutes (mp3).

Bangor Daily NewsOpponents of 138-foot-tall propane tank in Searsport to hold meetings.  11//01/11

Republican Journal  Group opposed to LPG terminal says 'Thanks but no tank'. 10/26/11 

Working WaterfrontSearsport Facing 15-Story Gas Tank  09/27/11.


The Free Press Thanks but No Tank! Op-ed by Janet Williams 11/3/11

Bangor Daily News  In Searsport: thanks, but no tank. By Tom Gocze,  Oct. 28, 2011.

Nov 4, 2011

Thanks But No Tank! Belfast public presentation AUDIO

Belfast Library, November third. The library's meeting room filled quickly and a two hour presentation and discussion ensued, exploring what is known about the plan for a giant Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) tank being promoted in Mack Point by the DCP-Midstream/Conoco Philips Spectra Energy combine.
The meeting was sponsored by Thanks But No Tank!  First, Astrig Tanguay gave a 70 minute presentation. Click on it, below. Then the People spoke with questions and ideas. Listen to their recordings following Astrig's presentation, below.

Part 1  16 minutes 
Part 2  13 minutes 
Part 3  18 minutes 
Part 4  12 minutes 
Part 5  13 minutes 
Full presentation 71 minutes

 For more information:

Nov 2, 2011

Thanks But No Tank! public info meeting in Searsport gets rave reviews.

Searsport. A full house heard  a "superb" presentation by Astrig Tanguay an organizer of Thanks But No Tank, the fiesty citizens group that has sprung up in response to the unseemly plan by industrial liquified  gas giant DCP Midstream, to clear a 30 acre forest and build a monster LLPG gas tank biggest in new England, that will send tons of pollutants into the air shed , says one attendee of the Thanks But No Tank! public meeting in Searsport Wednesday evening
"Phenomenal" writes another.
"Great job tonight Astrig!!
"The whole evening has me wound up and proud of what we have done to this point."

"I suspect there are still a lot of surprises between now and whenever this is over."
 "Kudos to everyone who participated in this process"

"Well done Astrig - your presentation painted an accurate picture of the situation and will get people talking and pumped up."

"My thanks to all of you for the hours and hours of research and organizing you've put into this effort. I'm inspired and humbled by your energy, passion and courage. "

"Plenty more to do, but a strong start out the gate."

"Onward ho!"

Photos courtesy WSCH