Aug 27, 2012

Fishermen: "voluntary" dockside USCG inspections to be mandatory starting Oct0ber 16th

As of October 16, 2012the United States Coast Guard voluntary dockside safety exam becomes mandatory for all commercial State registered and federally documented fishing vessels operating beyond 3 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline 

 This includes any full time commercial fishing vessel as well as recreational vessels while operating with a commercial permit to sell their catchThis requirement was mandated by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. 

Contact the Coast Guard safety examiner below for more information or to schedule an exam. Dockside exams are free of charge. 

Contact for Maine/New Hampshire:
Kevin Plowman 207-780-3256
Gerry Moores 207-838-4440

Aug 24, 2012

Camden Harbor breakwater study? Corps says, let's start

ACOE says: "[Camden] requested construction of breakwaters across the outer harbor to further protect the harbor from wave action and storms."
According to reporter Christine Parrish of the Free Press, the Army Corps of Engineers(ACOE) announced in its June 30 2012 Update Report for Maine that it will undertake a study and will begin "by gathering economic data from the commercial fishing fleet along with completing a depth survey in the vicinity of the proposed breakwater locations."

Below Parrish'[s article see the ACOE announcement

by Christine Parrish, Feature Writer, Free Press
In the 1960s Camden started discussing having the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers do a study to see if building a breakwater across the outer harbor would help protect the harbor from wave action and storms.

On January 26, 2007, the town submitted a request to the Corps; the Corps acted on it this June, by announcing in its Update Report for Maine that it will undertake a study and will begin "by gathering economic data from the commercial fishing fleet along with completing a depth survey in the vicinity of the proposed breakwater locations." By the time that announcement came out, the town had pretty much forgotten its request for a breakwater feasibility study, but Town Manager Pat Finnigan tracked back and found the 2007 letter and then got in touch with the Corps. The study, says Finnigan, is just the first step in a very lengthy process.

The Army Corps is not usually known for speed. In 2000, the Maine Department of Transportation asked the Corps to study deepening the 35-foot shipping channel at Mack Point in Searsport. The Corps completed a draft feasibility report this year that included project costs, economic benefits and environmental assessment, and it plans to hold a public review of the study sometime during the last three months of this year.

By contrast, a private business request for an Army Corps permit was relatively expeditious: DCP Midstream LLC was granted an Army Corps permit to pursue building a large propane storage tank at Mack Point less than a year after submitting an application.

End of FP article

Army Corps of Engineers, Update Report for Maine, June 30, 2012
CAMDEN HARBOR, CAMDEN (1st Congressional District) 
"The Camden Board of Selectmen requested the New England District
initiate a study under Section 107 of the River and Harbor Act of 1960 to determine the feasibility of implementing a navigation improvement project for Camden Harbor.

"Currently the Camden Harbor contains a Federal navigation project consisting of an inner and outer anchorage. The town requested construction of breakwaters across the outer harbor to further protect the harbor from wave action and storms.
This improvement potentially would provide further protection of harbor anchorages and shore facilities and allow for expansion of commercial activities. 

"During the initial phases of this investigation, economic data will be gathered from the commercial fishing fleet along with completing a depth survey in the vicinity of proposed breakwater locations."
End of update

Aug 20, 2012

Beachseining results Stockton Harbor 8/19/12

Beach seining results: 8/19/12, SW Stockton Harbor

Ron Huber and Bob Levangie deployed a 50 foot long, 1/32" knotless mesh beach seine in two locations in Stockton Harbor, near  the Sears Island Causeway.

Atlantic Silversides
Site 1= 51 
Site 2 +15

Site 1 = 65.  
Site 2 = 13

Site 2 = four

Windowpane flounder 

Site 1=2

Crangon Shrimp 
Site 1=  3    
Site 2= 4

2nd annual Penobscot Bay Rendezvous Power and Sail Regatta underway

Knox VIllage soup: ROCKLAND — Nearly 60 sailboats and powerboats are taking part in the second annual Penobscot Bay Rendezvous Power and Sail Regatta. The PBR "welcomes the hard-core sailor and the recreational sailor," according to the event website. The PBR is presented by Wayfarer Marine and Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding. The first day of racing kicked off shortly after noon on Friday, Aug. 17 as boats gathered outside Rockland Harbor to compete.
An airshow performed by the Texas Flying Legends preceded the start of the regatta. The antique planes dazzled observers as they performed various tricks against the backdrop of a near-cloudless blue sky.
Conditions were clear and warm as the regatta began. The breeze picked up as the afternoon continued with boats sailing around a course of pre-set markers, competing in one of six divisions that the PBR website states are based on "desired level of intensity."
A party Friday evening at the Pearl was one of several evening events for PBR participants. A barbecue and fireworks Thursday, Aug. 16 at Lyman-Morse in Thomaston welcomed participants, and a surf and turf dinner and gala is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 18 at Wayfarer Marine in Camden. Awards will presented Sunday, Aug. 19.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

Aug 14, 2012

Islesboro Islands Trust retains prominent security expert to review DCP gas tank plan

From the Islesboro Islands Trust August 14, 2012
 Islesboro Islands Trust retains Richard A. Clarke and consulting firm Good Harbor to conduct impartial All Hazards Risk Assessment of LPG marine import terminal proposed for Searsport, Maine.

ISLESBORO, MAINE (Aug. 14, 2012) – Today, the Islesboro Islands Trust (“IIT”) announced the retention of internationally renowned security expert Richard A. Clarke with the consulting firm Good Harbor, to conduct an independent All Hazards Risk Assessment of the 22.7 million gallon liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) marine import and storage facility proposed for Mack Point in Searsport, Maine.

IIT Executive Director Stephen Miller said, “The people of the Penobscot Bay region have repeatedly asked the developer and the permitting agencies to hire an independent expert to conduct an unbiased analysis of the safety and security risks of siting the largest liquefied petroleum gas import terminal on the East Coast at the head of Penobscot Bay – but these requests have, so far, been ignored.”

Steve Hinchman, counsel for IIT, a conservation land trust, and Thanks But No Tank, a concerned citizens group in the upper Penobscot Bay, noted further, “The potential economic, social, environmental and human costs of a serious accident – whether onboard ship, at the terminal, or from LPG tanker trucks on Route 1 or Route 3 – are too great to proceed any further until we understand the risks involved.”

To fill the gap, IIT turned to Richard A. Clarke, counter-terrorism advisor to three Presidents of the United States, and his firm, Good Harbor, because they have the experience, qualifications and capacity to provide the people of Midcoast Maine with an objective, unbiased review of the critical security questions associated with the proposed LPG terminal.

The Good Harbor All Hazards Risk Assessment will involve identification of the potential intentional, natural and accidental threats that are inherent to a gas import and storage facility of this scale, whether the gas is LPG or LNG, and will examine the vulnerabilities associated with the 24-acre project site and surroundings, as well as potential weaknesses in the facility’s configuration and design.

To evaluate the region’s ability to safely manage this risk, Good Harbor will compare the proposed Pen Bay project against LPG terminals elsewhere (there are two similar facilities on the East Coast) to assess the community’s ability to cope with an emergency, including fire and emergency response personnel, training, and equipment; public notice and evacuation plans; medical and hospital assets; and US Coast Guard and commercial tug capabilities to respond to accidents on the water.

As part of the Assessment, a blast and heat effects analysis will map out areas that may be impacted in the event of an accidental or intentional event. The analysis will be based on the worst case and “worse likely” events, as identified in the All Hazards assessment.

The sheer size of the proposed LPG terminal – and the inherent risk of transporting large volumes of explosive gasses – warrants this level of careful and independent review,” Miller added.

To fill this critical information void, the Islesboro Islands Trust, with the generous support of many concerned residents, has undertaken the burden to obtain an objective, neutral assessment of the safety and security risks and threats posed by this proposed facility and the tanker traffic – on land and sea – that it will generate.  
-- end --
FMI: Stephen Miller, IIT Executive Director 207-734-6907 (office) 207-542-5780 (cell) 

Legal Wrangling Continues over Searsport LPG

From: Island Institute's "Working Waterfront" newspaper. August 2012 edition

Legal Wrangling Continues over Searsport LPG
By Douglas Rooks.

Review of a proposed $40 million, 22.7 million gallon liquefied propane gas (LPG) storage tank is now in the hands of the Searsport Planning Board. But opponents and skeptics of the project still wonder if their concerns will ever be fully addressed.

“There’s a tremendous number of moving parts, and the responses we’ve seen to date tend to raise more questions than they answer," said Steve Miller, executive director of the Islesboro Island Trust——whose organization has not yet taken a position on the project.

Attorney Steve Hinchman represents a local citizens group, Thanks But No Tank, which has concluded that potential harm from the project outweighs any benefits, and appealed issuance of two state permits in Kennebec County Superior Court.
Among the legal issues raised by the group are noise levels, visual and scenic impacts, and the lack of a lighting plan from the developers, DCP Midstream Partners of Denver, Colo.

A brief from the State Attorney General’s oflice says the Department of Environmental Protection acted correctly in issuing the permits. And DEP spokeswoman Samantha DePoy-Warren, said, “Our review of this project . . . was a thorough and thoughtful one and was completely in keeping with the high standards of review that are within our jurisdiction under the Natural Resources Protection Act and the Site Location of Development Act."

DEP did impose several conditions on the permit, including a requirement that DCP Midstream pay $305,835 into a state conservation fund as mitigation for disturbing two acres of wetlands and rerouting a stream.

DePoy—Warren also noted that, although there were 30 written comments, no one requested a public hearing, which could have brought the matter before the Board of Environmental Protection and triggered a more extensive review.

Hinchman conceded that point, but said that BEP hearing requests were only possible for 20 days after DCP Midstream’s application was filed, in April 2011, and that “people in town were just starting to become aware of the size and scope of this project."

DEP issued the permits in September, while the Army Corps of Engi- neers signed off in April of this year.

The project still needs a Maine Fuel Board permit, and will need a federal Environmental Protection Agency permit before operating, but at this point, town review could be the last major step before construction. No Tank’s appeal of DEP’s permit decisions is now before Superior Court Iudge Nancy Mills, who could issue a ruling at any time, since the judge has not requested oral arguments.

But Hinchman is still not convinced that state and federal reviews will adequately consider the impacts. There is, for instance, the issue of public safety. “There are only two LPG storage plants on the East Coast of this magnitude,” he said — in Tampa, Fla., and Norfolk, Va. “And both of them are in heavily industrialized areas remote from homes and retail businesses?

Hinchman wonders how a volunteer fire department like Searsport’s would be able to cope with a major spill or fire. He noted that a spill at a nearby fuel depot required dispatch of a foam truck from Portland.

The tank would be built on 23.6 acres at the northeast corner of the port site, relatively close to Route 1. The Angler restaurant would be a near abutter, something that led its owner to join the No Tank group. A mile—long pipeline will connect the harbor site to the storage tank, which will be 138 feet high, almost three times the height of any existing tank in Searsport. A town height restriction was increased from 50 to 150 feet at a lightly attended town meeting in March 2011, by a vote of 79-66.

Nor do some local residents believe the state has appropriately gauged the impact of truck traffic; initially, all LPG would be moved by trailer, although rail line access is available.

One comment that doesn’t sit well with local residents came from Dave Allen, a DOT traffic engineer, who said at a recent public meeting, “Route 1 has tens of thousands of vehicles going down it every day. No one is even going to notice these trucks." The terminal is expected to operate year-round, 24 hours a day.

For Steve Miller, it is coastal navigational issues that are particularly daunting. In its review of the project, the U.S. Coast Guard recommended that no other vessels be in the shipping lane while LPG tankers are approaching the pier at Searsport. “Managing traffic during the busy summer months could take a lot more sophisticated system than anything that’s in place there now,” he said.

Miller is also disappointed and surprised that the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t require an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project, opting instead for a more abbreviated environmental assessment. “That could still change," he said. “Searsport could still request an ElS."

Miller noted that, in an application for a now-moribund liquefied natural gas plant on Cobscook Bay, the applicant’s EIS said in its alternatives analy- sis that Searsport would be unsuitable for LNG—and, he added, the National Fire Marshal’s office considers LPG to be more hazardous than LNG.

Arch Gillies, an Isleboro selectman, says it’s significant that at least seven neighboring municipalities have written to the Searsport Planning Board raising concerns. “There’s a real sense that this project is a lot bigger than anyone realized when the application was filed last year," he said. “I think that’s starting to sink in.”
But whether that realization will lead to more scrutiny is anyone’s guess. “In the filings, it’s diflicult to see the need for something this large,” Miller said.

“They say there was a propane shortage in Maine in 2007, but that was really more about transportation bottlenecks than supply. It’s hard to argue that all this new infrastructure is really necessary."

Former Maine Times and Kennebec Journal editor Douglas Rocks has been covering Maine issues for 25 years. He lives in West Gardiner.