Weekly Messages

A very tough week (April 21)

This past week we witnessed horrific terrorist bombings Monday at the Boston Marathon. And just two days later we saw the massive explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. In Texas, the majority of casualties were volunteer firefighters and first responders, more than 50 homes and buildings were destroyed and the explosion was felt some 50 miles away. While we were working on stopping the LPG mega-tank not a week went by that we did not hear from someone that was very concerned with consequences of an attack with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). These tragic events make us feel enormously grateful the Searsport Planning Board put the health and safety of all residents first and the LPG mega-tank will never be built in Searsport. The project application was denied by a 5-0 vote by the Planning Board at their April 17 special meeting. The final notice of decision and order can be read by following this link. Again, thanks to everyone for all your hard work to make this happen.

Currently, TBNT continues to meet to redefine our purpose and strategies to encourage balanced, sustainable growth in Searsport and to protect the Mid Coast. We are still looking for ideas what the acronym TBNT can stand for. We got some really clever responses last week, so if you have ideas, please send them our way when you have a moment.

Upcoming

Don’t forget there are two more screenings of the film “Chasing Ice” at the Colonial Theatre in Belfast; Monday the 22nd and Thursday at 7:15. This film documents the “Great Melting” of the artic cap with time lapse photographs and it scores a 7.5 rating on IMDb!

We will be at the HOPE Festival at the University of Maine Orono next Saturday, April 27, from 11-4. We will also have a presence at the Belfast Free Range Music Festival  on the same day.  Come and check us out. The theme this year of the HOPE Festival is “Do One Thing”. At the time we submitted the materials, at the end of March, we were asking folks to write the Army Corps of Engineers to ask for a full Environmental Impact Statement for the mega-tank ahead of our proposed legal action. However we noted that since we were coming close to the planning board deliberations that everything was very fluid and we couldn’t really say definitely what the “one thing”—or action should be. Now, approaching the end of April, who could have predicted the action would be essentially the same, except the threat of the tank has gone but been replaced by the massive dredging project proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Please follow this link to a recent news story. Please be advised the deadline to write to the Army Corps is May 6.

No Tank , Not Now, Not Ever.  (April 18)

Last night the Searsport Planning Board met for the final time regarding the DCP Midstream LPG mega-unwanted, mega-unneeded, dangerous (West, TX anyone) project. By a unanimous 5-0 vote, the permit was denied. Let’s hope the division caused by this company will fade away soon.

No Tank News  (April 14)

Quick update on the LPG mega-tank: According to attorney Steve Hinchman, in recent conversations with the Army Corps of Engineers, DCP is taking actions to hand back their permits, which should happen soon. This is more great news, as there does not appear to be any hidden agenda or tricks, the project is dead. We are working to resolve the three outstanding legal cases, two against the Maine DEP and one against the Maine Fuel Board. We will update on these outstanding cases as they are resolved. A meeting of the Searsport Planning Board to formally vote to deny the project application is this Wednesday, April 17, at 6:30, upstairs at Union Hall in Searsport.

This past week we had a conference call with folks from Gas Free Seneca, who were buoyed by our success. They face an eerily similar project where a large LPG storage facility is proposed for abandoned salt caverns in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. We were able to offer ideas, angles for them to pursue, and encouragement. We are keeping our fingers crossed that things work out well for our friends there.

Searsport Dredging

Every Penobscot Bay resident should be aware that a large dredging project is proposed for Searsport Harbor and the Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comment. The Corps along with Maine Dept. of Transportation proposal is for 929,000 cubic yards of material to be removed. Of this amount, only 37,000 cubic yards (4%) would be removed for maintenance dredging, the balance of 892,000 cubic yards (96%), is designated as an “improvement” (or expansion) project.  Please consider:

  • The area to be dredged covers a far larger area than the existing channels and dock areas.  It is deeper than any previous dredging.
  • The ME DOT Work Plan, dated February 2013, states, “$3 million for dredging the established commercial channel at Searsport, which serves the existing port operation at Mack Point, and for potential port development on Sears Island, which will make Maine eligible for at least $10 million in matching grants.”
  • In the notice from the ACoE, they state: “Disposal Area: The material to be dredged for improvement of the harbor is parent glacial material consisting of clay and till.  Based on similar physical and chemical characteristics at the dredge disposal sites, it was determined that the material from Searsport Harbor would be suitable for disposal in Penobscot Bay at the Penobscot Bay disposal site, approximately six miles from the project area, or at the alternative Rockland disposal site in the lower bay.”  This location is essentially at the mouth of Belfast Harbor, which is where the Passagassawakeag River empties into the bay.  Please follow this link to read the notice and see their plans.
  • The ‘Passy’ River is a migratory way for endangered salmon. It is also reported that the opening of dams has allowed an increase in threatened bay/river sturgeon.

Please consider writing and asking for a full Environmental Impact Statement to be conducted as well as asking for a public hearing for a job of this magnitude. Letters should perhaps focus on the expansion dredging, not the maintenance part.  The deadline is May 6 and the address is:

Project Manager Barbara Blumeris US Army Corps of Engineers New England District, Engineering & Planning Division 696 Virginia Road Concord, MA  01742

Or email her at: cenaeep@usace.army.mil

Moving Forward

We are in the process of defining our mission for the future. We would like to keep the name TBNT and the website, tbnt.org. However, there is no tank (and we are VERY thankful) but we need these initials to stand for something different now. If you have any ideas, please shoot us an email. Please also start (or continue) to create your tank tops for our tank top party in June.

Maine 350.org

We were fortunate to participate in Maine 350.org’s second statewide meeting Saturday. Their campaigns now include fossil fuel divestment, lobby efforts on bills pending, and actions on tar sands.  Among the many earth week activities include a free screening for teens of the acclaimed film, “Chasing Ice” sponsored by 350 Waldo County. This will be held at the Colonial Theatre on Sunday, the 21st at 4PM. There will be other screenings of this and other films and lectures. For more information on films and activities please follow this link.

What a Week! (April 7)

It is still hard to believe what happened this past week happened. The application was withdrawn and then was denied by the planning board. And you and your friends made it happen. In the end, we did not need a big name celebrity to endorse our cause, or senators or congressmen. As we’ve just seen, in the end, we just needed you. We thank you for doing your homework, stepping forward, speaking out, going to local meetings, broadcasting our message using social media, contribute funds,  writing letters (a lot of letters) and rising up, being part of eye-catching photographs, demonstrations,  poems, and songs.  Our amazing grassroots together with our incredible legal team were able to spread the word to elected officials and educate citizens and the planning board why this project was not right for Searsport. Everyone pitched in (a special thank you to our good friend, Flower Power, who worked with us—tirelessly—every  day on the facebook pages) and did a phenomenal job—it was the definition of what can happen when citizens come together and fight together for a common purpose. We have heard from other groups and they have found inspiration in our victory. Maybe that is the bigger story here: Mainers can roll up the sleeves and fight tough against all odds. So, pat yourself on the back today, you really did an incredible thing showing a multibillion dollar energy company they could not come in and destroy Maine.

Earlier today we travelled to the University of Maine to the “Budget for all” Teach-in sponsored by the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine.  Along with the folks from the Stop the East=West Corridor, we were part of a panel on Protecting Maine’s Environment. Needless to say, folks there were super-happy the tank is now gone. We gave a quick update noting the state permit is good for four years and the federal permit is good for five and Searsport is still threatened as long as these permits are in existence as the possibility exists for them to be transferred to other entities. We will continue to work to have these permits rescinded so this project is dead once and for all. We have had conversations this past week as to what the future will bring for our organization. Everyone involved with TBNT is in agreement that we should continue our work to redefine ordinances and to create a way to have this part of Penobscot Bay protected from all kinds of unsuitable developments like the LPG mega-tank. When we conveyed this news to the workshop if was very well received and we have been told not to stop now. No one wants to have to do this all over again with another project. We will share news as we further define the future of TBNT.  Please stay tuned.

Upcoming

It’s party time:  Joy and relief rule the day and we will finalize a date upcoming mid May for a party in Searsport to celebrate. This party will be open to all including friends, supporters, elected officials, planning board members and guests. It is our hope this will be a start to help healing the community divided by the tank. More information to come.

We will continue with all our fundraising (we have a LOT of bills to still to pay) and events for this spring and summer. So, please keep knitting, sewing or designing your tank tops for the tank top party at the Belfast Boathouse June 27. Submissions should be ready by June 1. For more information and contact please follow this link.

Also, please mark your calendars for a benefit concert Saturday, June 1 at 7PM. Please join us for this very special evening of Music, Stories and Paintings with artist Robert Shetterly and music by Voices for Peace. We had the opportunity to sit in at his workshop “Art Activism” today and to see the wonderful portraits he creates of “Americans Who Tell the Truth”. This celebratory event will be at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Belfast. More information will follow in the coming weeks.   That is it for now; enjoy your tank-free week.

Special Update: Logan County, Oklahoma (April 5)

We discovered just last night a gas facility operated by DCP Midstream in Oklahoma has exploded and caused an evacuation of homes within a mile radius. Please follow this link for the news story and video.

This unfortunate incident reinforces the findings these past two weeks of the Searsport Planning Board regarding the mega-tank; that it would be unsafe and unhealthful; too close to existing homes and businesses and cause an unreasonable burden on Searsport’s and regional municipal departments. We are thankful the board put the safety and health of mid coast residents first and foremost. At the end of the meeting last night area citizens showed their appreciation by clapping and giving the planning board a standing ovation.

Deliberations Day 4: DCP’s Ship: Fading Away (April 4)

The planning board continued their deliberations on the DCP application again tonight, April 4,  in Union Hall. Picking up from last night, the board started with the Site Plan Review Ordinance performance standards #11-18.

The first standard discussed, impacts municipal services, was discussed at length. The board used findings from the Fannon report, Good Harbor report and letters sent to the board by Searsport’s municipal departments. A large obstacle: the costs associated to the fire and police departments.  It was noted the Good Harbor report mentioned additional costs to services, especially fire department. Board member George Kerper noted these should be absorbed by DCP. In the end the board voted 5-0 the standard had not been met unless DCP would pay these costs for fire and emergency departments as well as upgrades to the water department.

Standards #12-15 all passed unanimously. These included: water pollution; on site water supply; soil erosion; and septage disposal.

Standard 16 is “Unreasonable Adverse Effects”.  Among the many reasons this failed were findings that the tax benefit would be minimal. They spoke of the situation in Searsmont and noted that assessed mega-tank facility value will be well below $50 million.  Board member Mark Bradstreet noted there would not be enough jobs generated and others noted that jobs most likely would be lost.  They voted the portion of the standard was not met on “scenic and natural beauty” as the tank would be visible from Route 1 and Sears Island and was not part of the existing tank farm.  The portions regarding historic sites, wildlife habitats and irreplaceable natural areas were all met. The adverse effects on property values, however, were problematic. They cited the appraisals to Angler’s restaurant and how it would be significantly devalued as well as Tom Gocze’s providing evidence of loss of value. Most notably, Chairman Probert noted that all experts testified that all abutters properties would decrease and that DCP did nothing to address these impacts. “I think they failed miserably on that” were his words. In the end the vote was 5-0 this standard had not been met.

The project also did not meet performance standard #17, technical and financial capacity, unless conditions are met.  #18 air quality was passed. Again, all votes were unanimous.

Out of 18 site plan review performance standards, the mega-tank failed 7 (preserve and enhance the landscape, relationship of proposed buildings to environment, special features, emergency vehicle access, municipal services, unreasonable adverse effects, and technical and financial capacity). In the end, as David Italiaander noted in his closing brief, “the facts are the facts” and there was just no way around them. TBNT, our legal team, Islesboro Islands Trust, and all our friends who assisted should feel very proud of all our hours of work establishing the facts for the board to consider.  Well done.

After a break, the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance was deliberated. The board voted the project does meet all the requirements.  The final vote was taken later and this passed 5-0.

Then final votes were taken on the Land Use Ordinance, Site Plan Review Ordinance, and Shoreland Zoning Ordinance. When called for these votes, the first two were voted down 5-0 by the planning board but something special happened. In solidarity with the planning board, audience members also raised their hands which caused Bruce Probert to laugh. This light moment at the end of this arduous process was especially nice to see. Thanks to Harlan McLaughlin for coming up with this idea.

In the end, we see like Forest Taber’s wonderful cartoon in the Republican Journal, the DCP ship is still very much visible but appears to be headed out, as it’s sunk. The ever-astute Anna Kessler noted what is really needed is a torpedo to sink this thing for good so it cannot take a tour around Pen Bay and return to Searsport. TBNT and our legal team are still working on getting that final knockout torpedo ready.

Please consider making a contribution to TBNT to help defray our legal costs. Our address is PO Box 150, Searsport, ME 04974. Or online please follow this link.

Deliberations Day 3: Not So Fast…(April 3)

Tonight the Searsport Planning Board reconvened after the news on April 2 that DCP was withdrawing their application. Three options were presented by the board’s legal counsel.  The first, do nothing,  would leave the door open to future applications by DCP.  The second, to have DCP to agree to dismiss the application with prejudice, would give closure to the application so it could not come back in any form in the future. Counsel asked DCP to agree to this and did not hear anything back from them.  The third option, which was recommended, to continue with the deliberations on the application, was voted on and unanimously agreed to. So the planning board continued the deliberations process from last week earlier tonight without the applicant, DCP Midstream, at the meeting.

All findings and motion to date were reviewed and voted on. None of the prior votes had changed however some of the language was amended.  Then the board got into the Site Review Ordinance performance standards. The first ten standards were all discussed and voted on. The bottom line: the project failed four standards and passed six. The first two standards:  preserve and enhance the landscape and relationship of proposed buildings to environment as well as standard #8, special features of the development and #10, emergency vehicle access the project all failed. Emergency vehicle access being very important did not pass as Brian Callahan noted that he would “like to see another access if a problem arises”. Chairman Probert noted that there was no room for another access. All of which are the fundamental problem with this project: that it is too big for a lot that is too small and too close to existing homes and residences.

The project passed standard #3 vehicle access; #4 parking and circulation; #5 surface water drainage; #6 existing utilities; #7 advertising features; and #9 exterior lighting.  All votes were unanimous.

Thursday night the deliberations continue with the big questions remaining, including effects on municipal services, unreasonable adverse effects (including scenic/natural beauty, historic sites, habitat/natural areas and property values) and air quality. We encourage everyone to come Thursday and witness these proceedings. Contrary to public statements that DCP Midstream has released to the press about their company deciding to withdraw the application “as a courtesy” to the planning board, their actions have proven just the opposite as they have not withdrawn their application with prejudice and finality when asked. The planning board, for this reason continues with its work that has been tasked. Please show your appreciation for the hours they have volunteered with this job and give them your support.

If you have not heard the MPBN report, Developers Ditch Plans for 14-Story Propane Tank in Searsport, please take a moment to listen to it, especially the last part (not included on the MPBN written transcript):

“Going forward with the local current circumstances we would not foresee doing any future capital investment in Maine.” (Roz Elliott)

“But DCP’s Roz Elliott says the company isn’t completely closing the door to a future project in Maine. In a follow-up e-mail, Elliott wrote that “the company is considering its options”.

And also consider the last paragraph of the story in The New York Times.  It appears DCP Midstream really does want to export propane.

Thanks to all who wrote expressing appreciation for our work, while the news we’ve gotten this week has been fantastic, we are committed to seeing the end of the mega-tank once and for-all.

DCP Withdraws LPG Application (April 2)

By now, many have heard the news announced earlier today (Tuesday April 2)  that DCP Midstream is withdrawing their Searsport application. While we feel enormous relief, we do have outstanding questions that need to be addressed.

A company press release was sent earlier to news outlets without notifying either the planning board or our legal team. As such, we do not know what their plans include for their state and federal permits or what sort of plans they may have moving forward.  Planning board Chairman Probert has confirmed the meeting of the Searsport Planning Board is still on for Wednesday at 6:30pm in Union Hall. We encourage everyone to come down and hear exactly what DCP has to say to the planning board. It is our hope this truly is the end of the line for this unwanted, unneeded, dangerous project.

Off the Rails (March 10)

A train hauling oil derailed this past Thursday in Mattawamkeag. Incredibly, only 3 gallons of oil were spilled very close to the Penobscot River. This has caught the attention of lawmakers in Augusta and they are concerned, as this easily could have been a massive disaster. These trains have become more frequent, hauling crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota over to St. John, New Brunswick for refinement. What would be the risks if these trains were carrying propane? Propane tankers would be pressurized, and should a derailment happen, these tanker cars would be at risk of being punctured and releasing vapor, causing danger to the surrounding environment.  With emergency responders at a considerable distance, the damage would not likely be contained well.  Please see this short video if you haven’t already describing a propane rail accident. What are the implications if the proposed mega-tank is used for export and many trains are constantly received at Searsport?

In Searsport

Everyone did a super job writing letters and sending them to the planning board. When we went in to deliver TBNT’s package of information, Chairman Bruce Probert remarked, “You have done a very good job” as he noted all letters he has received—more than a hundred (he did not seem pleased).  Thanks to everyone who wrote. We read quite a few of them—and a few were printed in the newspapers.  We need to keep this momentum going!  If you have a letter, especially if it has a topic not covered before, please send it to a newspaper, or share with a social media site.  Please follow this link for a listing.

Congratulations to Searsport’s newest member of the Select board, Meredith Ares. Meredith ran this past fall for the state legislature and came up just a bit short. In a close re-count, she made it over the top this time. We have no doubt she will do a great job and serve the people of Searsport well.

Upcoming

Kayak trip March 23 around Searsport and Long Cove. Leaving from the Sears Island causeway in the afternoon. This will be a good opportunity to see the site of the proposed mega-tank and the proposed pipeline, the harbor, pier, not from a negative viewpoint but from an informative viewpoint.  More information to come.

Save the date: Wednesday, March 27, 6:30 PM.  The Searsport Planning Board will meet.  DCP Application “Closing arguments and beginning deliberations” is the description on the town’s website. This meeting will take place upstairs at Union Hall, 1 Union Street.

Send your Letters, please… (March 2)

The public hearings have ended; however, there is still work to do. First and foremost, if you have not submitted a letter to the Searsport Planning Board, please do so, especially if you have not written before. Monday, March 4 is the deadline for submission. Letters can be hand-delivered to the Searsport town office, 1 Union St. (follow Reservoir St. off Route 1 downtown) Searsport; 8:30 to 5:00 on Monday.

**PLEASE ALSO CONSIDER SENDING YOUR LETTER TO THE MEDIA:  See the “Get Involved page for a listing of Media Outlets**

Please address letters to Chairman Bruce Probert and the Board. Please be aware the most effective letters will cite a specific Searsport Planning Board performance standard(s) and will explain why the mega-tank and terminal will not meet the standard(s). Our website, www.tbnt.org, has been updated, please see the documents page. We have all the links to the Good Harbor study (and how it applies in reference papers), the Abbie McMillen report (which does an excellent job of succinctly describing why the mega-tank passes or fails each performance standard), and more. The video page has the February 11 (Good Harbor presentation) and previous public hearings. Audio is available for all the hearings.

A follow up from this past week; we told the story of Nancy Jo Daly, who came from Ellsworth to address the Searsport Planning Board meeting, and was near the microphone when the hearing was shut down. Her letter now has close to 4000 views, which is unprecedented, on our friend’s Searsport LPG Tank protest facebook page. Spread the word and please share with your friends; let’s see if we can get to 5000 this week.

We would like to thank Nancy Jo, Abbie McMillen, Nancy-Linn Nellis, Flower Power, our good friends at the Islesboro Islands Trust, and all the speakers (and letter writers) who over the course of the hearings, eleven nights from November to February, witnessed the hearings, spoke, or waited patiently to speak and were denied. We witnessed 67 public speakers who opposed the tank, with only 7 in favor (of which 4 were from the same family). This figure does not include the 65 dedicated small business owners, retirees, real estate professionals and other experts who delivered testimony against it. And out of 190 letters submitted to the board as of February 13, only 3 supported the tank. What has become abundantly clear is the overwhelming majority of people in the community are now firmly opposed to this unwanted, unneeded, dangerous project.  You have done your hours and hours of homework, cited specific reasons, made cogent arguments and demonstrated why it is not right for Searsport or anywhere on the Midcoast. We thank you for your support all along the way; everyone did a really phenomenal job.

We’ve Moved to 33

We’ve left our headquarters space at the Searsport Bank Building last week (Thank you David Italiaander for your kindness and generosity) and moved down the street to 33 East Main St. Thank you to Tom + Deirdre, the building’s owners, who really liked “33” and Searsport, saw unlimited potential for what could happen downtown with some effort. All their plans for development—creating a really cool shop here—have been put on hold and the building is for sale while the tank application is in process. While in Searsport come and visit, (look for the yellow door), we have yard signs, license plates and buttons to elevate visibility. We are currently housing the only 3D scale model of the mega-tank built and will be open Monday at 9:00 am.

Upcoming in Searsport

For Searsport residents, please remember the special election for the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, March 5.

The Searsport Annual Town Meeting is Saturday, March 9 at 9:00 am in the Searsport District High School gymnasium

The Searsport Planning Board Meeting (DCP application “Closing arguments and Beginning deliberations”) will be Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30 pm, Union Hall. This meeting will not include public comment.

We Will NEVER be Silenced. (Feb. 26)

Last night DCP submitted an amended application at the very beginning of the public hearings pertaining to the project’s administration building. And, of course, we have no idea what it is, as it’s been classified as “security sensitive information” or SSI. Perhaps it’s another bait and switch?

Questioning of the emergency management director of Searsport followed in which he admitted there are no emergency plans for the project because it hasn’t been built and there aren’t any construction drawings available to him. Next up was the technical advisor to the Searsport Planning Board, Neil Frangesh, who appeared to be highly coached by DCP in his presentation, especially in his testimony regarding exporting. As an aside, he called out some of the material in the Good Harbor report “really out there”. Mr. Frangesh may not see a whole lot of recent news.  Recent cyber-attacks from China on U.S. businesses, terrorist’s attempts to blow-up a gas facility in Algeria (shock and awe) sky high and more advances in drone technology are a constant reminder it’s not 1975 anymore.  One important point, the line in his interim report regarding “It is [his] opinion that the real control room is going to be located in the administration building” was removed from his final report. This is not to be overlooked as it is a key point regarding zoning and their application.  This very important cross examination of this highly partisan to DCP advisor lasted about 5-10 minutes and was shut off by the chairman to allow time for public comment. This is unacceptable: we were denied the opportunity to learn of the full export capacity of this tank which has 58% more cooling capacity than the similarly sized Sea-3 Tampa facility. Why? This calculation comes directly from Neal Frangesh’s report and we will share more information as we find out more.

Open to the public started with Ann Flack delivering a petition, originated by Stockton Spring’s Nancy-Linn Nellis, to the board with 5300 signers telling DCP to “go away”. An excerpt from Ann’s heartfelt statement is below.

“You will see from the petition that signers care deeply about Searsport and our mid-coast and island communities. They value the character of our towns and villages, our cultural riches, the renowned local produce of our farms and bay. These residents and visitors support our shops, restaurants, and a host of other local businesses. They hike our trails, bike our roads, sail, cruise, row or paddle on Penobscot Bay. They are us.”

And yes, there may even be Californians who have signed it, who live here seasonally, or have visited and care deeply. If you have not already, please sign this petition by following this link. Thank you, Nancy-Linn, for all your tireless efforts.

Searsport’s Ben Crimaudo set the record straight about the role former Governor John Baldacci played in the propane shortage of 2007. Contrary to their accounts, he never invited DCP to Maine to build a mega-tank. Please follow this link to a yesterday’s MPBN story. Thank you Governor, for writing your letter to the Searsport Planning Board expressing “the safety and well-being of the public” should be the board’s primary consideration. You may remember Ben; he was the gentleman that was “escorted” from the hearings last November detailed in this Free Press article.

And the speakers kept coming, 26 total, bringing up key points about jobs, property values, terrorism, truck traffic, how a conditional permit won’t be enforced, who’s accountable, why no 3D scale model, how the Sea-3 Tampa tank is sited completely different, concerns about disaster response and maritime interruption, on and on.

26 Speakers expressed opinions, offered facts, and arguments how the project will violate Searsport’s site planning ordinances. All opposed the mega-tank; no ONE spoke in favor of the tank: ZERO community support. And it has been similar since last November, where five or six people total, out of hundreds of speakers, have supported the tank. Perhaps Chairman Probert had heard enough. About 9:40 the Chairman took a vote to shut down the meeting with many people still in line, most had not spoken before and many were still in line wanting to speak. This action was completely unacceptable. Folks who had sat patiently were outraged and rightly so. Many held up signs which read, “WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED”.  The hearings have ended. We would like to hope the Board has not made up its mind, is weighing the evidence presented, and will keep an open mind, however, the events of last night give us reason to seriously doubt this is the case.

Huge thanks to those who came and spoke last night. Everyone did a really terrific job. And to those who sat through the hearings all eleven nights and have witnessed the entire proceedings you are to be commended for your unwavering dedication to our cause: THANK YOU.

Please tune in to WERU’s News Report with Amy Browne at 4 pm today (Monday) if you missed last night or would like to hear a re-cap. Amy plans to have more of the story this week as well.  Please see the WERU website for more information.

Important: Upcoming

MONDAY March 4 is the deadline for submitting written statements to the Searsport Planning Board to be part of the hearings written record. The address to mail them to is:

Bruce Probert, Chairman Searsport Planning Board, Town of Searsport, PO Box 499, Searsport, ME 04974

or hand deliver them to the town office at Union Hall which is on Reservoir St, off Rte. 1 Searsport. It is always a good idea to send a copy to the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Aaron Fethke as well (same address).

If you in line and were shut off…

We would like to make use of the energy in the room and put it to good use. Please write your statement down and send them to Bruce Probert. And contact us; we would like to make a series of short videos for our website and YouTube.  We envision a  “this is what I would have said to the Searsport Planning Board” as a campaign to increase visibility.

It’s Time to Listen (Feb. 16)

This past week, Searsport area residents were eagerly awaiting Richard A. Clarke’s presentation of the Good Harbor All Hazards Risk Assessment. Unfortunately, the winter weather prevented him from appearing.

On February 12, 2013, Mr. Clarke sent a letter to the Searsport Planning Board. Here is an excerpt:
You do not want to look back, years from now, after a disaster and wish you had done more, wish you had put the safety and security of your citizens first. You may think that a disaster is a very remote possibility, that nothing like this has ever happened before. That’s the way we thought before Oklahoma City. That’s the way we thought before 9-11. Just because it has not happened before, does not mean it will not happen. If the physics allows it to happen, then you have to act as though it will.

Please take a moment to read his letter in its entirety by following this link or by visiting www.penbaylpg.org  You may want to print a copy and share it with others.

Richard A. Clarke was National Coordinator for Counterterrorism for the National Security Council and advisor to three U.S Presidents. In the weeks prior to September 11th, 2001, he told the highest intelligence leaders at the time on multiple occasions that they needed to pay attention to a potential terrorist threat in the U.S., and that, “Something really spectacular was about to happen.” Unfortunately, his warnings went unheeded.

Come Together (Feb. 10)

This Monday at 6pm the Searsport public hearings on the mega-tank resume with the presentation of the Good Harbor report with Richard A. Clarke. We need the biggest audience ever. If you have been reading these emails for a while now and have not been to any of the hearings or meetings and are concerned about the future of the Mid-coast, the health of Penobscot Bay, your family’s health and safety, and what we will leave for future generations then IT’S TIME TO GET INVOLVED. Monday’s hearing is not to be missed; the location is the same, the Searsport District High School, 24 Mortland Rd., we advise getting there early. The hearings continue at 6 pm Tuesday and Wednesday nights, please look for updates this week.  For an info sheet on Good Harbor and how it affects the Searsport Planning Board’s decision process please follow this link.

We had success this week at local government meetings bringing attention in Belfast, Stockton Springs, Northport and Camden. Stockton will write another letter which will say their concern is now greater with all the information that has come to light. Other municipalities have shown some reticence in adopting a “deny permit” stance right now, but, outside their chambers, there is a major difference in attitude. Last summer and fall, people we spoke with were not engaged or involved, and did not have strong opinions, this has changed markedly. Folks are waking up—as if they’ve been given some strong smelling salts—that this project could actually be built. Momentum is now on our side, as a strong majority has thought about it and does not want it. Recently, we visited one local business that told us they are well positioned for growth and within a reasonable period of time could absolutely hire 8-12 people. But they are waiting to see what happens with the tank and if it gets approved and built they will leave; they do not need to be in Searsport and can move anywhere. This thriving business will leave and sell all property including their home, and they are not alone. Despite what DCP has tried to sell Searsport, this is not just another tank in a tank farm. Unlike the other tanks, it must be kept chilled at all times at -44°F, and it will be highly visible by all travelers on Rte. 1. For more information about the this project, see reports, including Good Harbor, or to read recent letters to editors, please visit our website, www.tbnt.org.   Please consider writing your opposition in the online comment section for stories in local newspapers, especially the Bangor Daily News.

Speak NOW.

For all the reasons above, we are looking for more people to speak to the Searsport Planning Board during public comment. If you have not spoken at any of their meetings, or any of the previous hearings, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. Come to the hearings, listen to the safety information, especially how it relates to the job the planning board is relegated to do and make your thoughts known. Your voice is needed; if you make your living on the water as a lobsterman or fisherman, we especially need to hear what you have to say about the effect on your business from the deep channel dredging which is necessary. If you have ever been in or witnessed a truck accident on Route 1 (or anywhere else) please come and tell the board about it. If you have concerns about your children riding the bus past this facility daily; if you have concerns about the effect the tank will have on your business and other businesses; or if you are concerned about increases in taxes this project will cause, and the tax base declining, please come and speak. If you fear declining home values, which according to experts at previous hearings will happen; or if you a volunteer fire-fighter and think this is a bad idea, come and speak. Please invite everyone you know to come to the hearings and have their voice heard as we need to have this final round of public comment be an overwhelming tidal wave against the tank. But please keep in mind the authority the planning board has and their guidelines and ordinances. It is ideal to tailor your remarks to include as much evidence that speaks to these ordinances. Here again, is an overview:

Planning Board Authority

The Planning Board has the authority and the responsibility under Searsport ordinances to consider our concerns about (a) impacts to the health, safety and welfare of humans and (b) impacts to natural resources, including their economic values. This authority and responsibility flows from the following Searsport ordinances:

Development Review Ordinance,

SECTION I – PURPOSE

“Development or changes in the uses of land can cause a profound impact upon the cost and efficiency of municipal services and upon the environment of the town. Such development can impact schools, sewers, waterlines and other public utilities: recreational facilities; liquid and solid waste disposal; police and fire protection; open space; road systems and circulation; traffic congestion; placement of building(s) and structure(s); property values; water quality; the aesthetic and visual characteristics of the neighborhood and town, and the general health, safety and welfare of the community. It is the purpose of this Ordinance to control such impacts when caused by development…”

Land Use Ordinance PURPOSES

“The purposes of the Ordinance are as follows:

“1. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN IMPLEMENTATION: To implement the policies and recommendations of the Searsport Comprehensive Plan;

“2. PROTECTION OF THE GENERAL WELFARE: To assure the comfort, convenience, safety, health and welfare of the present and future inhabitants of the Town of Searsport; and

“4. PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT: To protect and enhance the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the Town from unacceptable adverse impacts and to integrate new development harmoniously into the Town’s natural environment.”

Land Use Ordinance, Section V.A. General Standards

“All proposed development shall be in conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and Policy Statements of the Town contained within the Plan and with the provisions of all pertinent local ordinances and regulations, State laws and Federal regulations.”

Searsport Comp Plan (p. A-2)

“To protect the state’s critical natural resources, including, without limitation, wetlands, wildlife and fisheries habitat, sand dunes, shorelands, scenic vistas and unique natural areas.

“To protect the state’s marine resources industry, ports, and harbors from incompatible development and to promote access to the shore for commercial fishermen and the public. To safeguard the state’s agricultural and forest resources from development that threatens those resources.

“[Still quoting the Comp Plan…] The following is a list of the state’s 9 coastal policies:

“To promote the maintenance, development and revitalization of the state’s ports and harbors for fishing, transportation and recreation.

“To manage the marine environment and its related resources to preserve and improve the ecological integrity and diversity of marine communities and habitats, to expand our understanding of the productivity of the Gulf of Maine and coastal waters and to enhance the economic value of the state’s renewable marine resources.

“To support shoreline management that gives preference to water-dependent uses over other uses, that promotes access to the shoreline and that considers the cumulative effects of development on coastal resources.

“To discourage growth and new development in coastal areas where, because of coastal storms. flooding, landslides or sea-level rise, it is hazardous to human health and safety.

“To encourage and support cooperative state and municipal management of coastal resources.

“To protect and manage critical habitat and natural areas of state and national significance and maintain the scenic beauty and character of the coast even in areas where development occurs.

“To expand the opportunities for outdoor recreation and encourage appropriate coastal tourist activity and development.

“To restore and maintain the quality of our fresh, marine and estuarine waters to allow for the broadest possible diversity of public and private uses.

“To restore and maintain coastal air quality to protect the health of citizens and visitors and to protect enjoyment of the natural beauty and maritime characteristics of the Maine coast.”

Comp Plan Section K, Land Use:

“Comprehensive planning recognizes the importance of regional cooperation. The land uses in one community can impact another community, particularly when that land use is located near the boundaries of the town.”

Development Review Ordinance SECTION VI – PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

SECTION VI – PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

The following standards are to be used by the Planning Board in judging applications for site plan review and shall serve as minimum requirements for approval of the site plan. The site plan shall be approved, unless in the judgment of the Planning Board, the applicant is not able to reasonably meet one or more of the following standards. In all instances the burden of proof shall be on the property owner and shall include the production of evidence necessary to complete the application.

1. Preserve and Enhance the Landscape: The landscape shall be preserved in its natural state insofar as is practicable by minimizing tree removal, disturbance of soil, and by retaining existing vegetation during construction. After construction is completed, landscaping shall be designed and planted that will define, soften or screen the appearance of off-street parking areas from public walks, public rights-of-way, and abutting properties and/or structures, in order to enhance the physical design of the building(s) or site, and to minimize the encroachment of the proposed use on neighboring lands and uses. For commercial and industrial subdivisions, due consideration shall also be given the location of building(s), parking areas and other structures, within those areas of the property to be subdivided, that are most suitable for such uses. Areas deemed unsuitable for development, or possessing important natural or scenic values shall be maintained in a natural condition. In this regard, particular consideration shall be given Shoreland and marine resources.

2. Relationship of Proposed Buildings to Environment: Proposed building(s) or structure(s) shall be related harmoniously with the surrounding terrain and to existing buildings within the vicinity which have a visual relationship to the proposed building(s) or structure(s). Special attention shall be paid to the bulk, location, height, and siding of the building(s) or structure(s) and to such natural features as slope, soil type, drainage ways, and important wildlife habitats.

3. Vehicle Access: The proposed site layout shall provide for safe access and egress from existing or proposed public and private roads. The layout shall indicate the location(s), number(s), and any on-site control(s) of these access/egress points, as well as any turning lanes and traffic signs or signals when required by existing or projected traffic flow on the existing or proposed public and private roads.

4. Parking and Circulation: The layout and design of all means of vehicular and pedestrian circulation, including walkways, interior drives and parking areas shall provide for safe general interior circulation, separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, service traffic, loading areas, and arrangement and use of parking areas.

5. Surface Water Drainage: Adequate provision shall be made for surface drainage so that the removal of surface waters will not adversely affect neighboring properties, downstream water quality, soil erosion, slope stability or public storm drainage systems. Whenever possible, on-site absorption of run-off surface waters shall be utilized as a means of minimizing discharge from the site and to retain the natural drainage patterns.

6. Existing Utilities: The development shall not impose an unreasonable adverse effect on sewers, sanitary and storm drains, water lines or other public utilities.

7. Advertising Features: The size, location, design, lighting and materials for all exterior signs and outdoor advertising structure(s) or features shall not detract from the design of the proposed building(s) and structure(s) and the surrounding properties.

8.Special Features of the Development: Exposed storage areas, exposed machinery installation, service areas, truck loading areas, utility buildings and similar structure(s) shall have sufficient setbacks and

and screening so as to provide an audio/visual buffer sufficient to minimize their unreasonable adverse effect on other land uses within the development area and surrounding properties, and on recreational uses of public waters.

9. Exterior Lighting: All exterior lighting shall be designed so as to minimize unreasonable adverse effect upon neighboring properties.

10. Emergency Vehicle Access: Provisions shall be made for providing and maintaining convenient and safe emergency vehicle access to ail buildings and structures at all times.

11.Municipal Services; The development will not have an unreasonable adverse effect on the municipal services, including municipal road systems, fire departments, police department, solid waste program, sewage treatment plant, schools, open spaces, recreational programs and facilities, and other municipal services and facilities.

12. Water Pollution: Adequate provision shall be made to prevent an unreasonable adverse effect upon the quality of water. In addressing this matter, the layout plan shall indicate consideration of land elevation above sea level and its relationship to the flood plains, as well as the nature of soils and sub-soils and their ability to adequately support waste disposal. The layout plan shall also show consideration of the general slope of the land, and the slope’s effect on effluents, any aquifer and aquifer re-charge areas; availability of streams or brooks for surface water runoff; the effect of project surface water runoff on Shoreland and marine resources; and applicable federal, state and local laws, ordinances, codes and regulations.

13. On Site Water Supply: The layout site plan shall indicate that sufficient water supply is available for reasonably foreseeable needs of the development without causing an unreasonable adverse effect on an existing water supply.

14, Soil Erosion: The development shall not cause unreasonable soil erosion nor a reduction in the capacity of the land to retain surface water, resulting in a dangerous or unhealthy condition.

15. Septaqe Disposal: The layout plan shall provide for adequate septage waste disposal in conformance with pertinent state and federal laws.

16. Adverse Effects: The development shall not have unreasonable adverse effects upon the scenic or natural beauty of the area, historic sites, important wildlife habitats or rare and irreplaceable natural areas or property values.

17. Financial Capacity: The applicant shall demonstrate adequate financial and technical capacity to meet above standards.

18. Air Quality: the development shall not significantly add to the existing air pollution.

Gaining Ground (Feb. 4)

The Searsport Planning Board public hearings on the DCP mega-tank application resume on February 11 with security expert Richard A. Clarke to present the Good Harbor report. On January 23, the Islesboro Board of Selectmen voted, approved, and sent a resolution letter to the Searsport Planning Board. The letter asks the Searsport Planning Board to acknowledge “the many safety and security shortcomings of the LPG facility” which were detailed in the Good Harbor assessment and to apply those findings to the Searsport Land Use and Site Plan Review Ordinance standards. The resolution asks for a denial of land use and site plan permits “because of the plethora of safety issues”. Copies of this letter (read here) have been send to Maine’s members of the U.S. Congress, County Commissioners, Regional State Representative and all Penobscot Bay Towns (38 total). We thank the Islesboro Board of Selectmen  for providing a leadership role in fighting this unwanted, unnecessary, unthinkable, and dangerous project.

For the Upper Penobscot, Good Harbor identified that there are, “limited emergency response capabilities located in the region” (report, p. 17) and reinforces that Searsport cannot respond to any incident at this LPG tank terminal without mutual aid support.  Their report advises a detailed review be made of assured impacts to, “mutual aid agreements, cost-sharing plans, and joint training and exercises.” (p. 16)  There will be adverse, financial effects to the county and neighboring municipalities as a result of this massive and extremely hazardous project. All residents of the region should be very concerned with their town’s emergency personnel which will be the first called upon in the case of a calamity. The Islesboro letter sums it up as follows: “The town of Islesboro cannot pay the costs of essential emergency response improvements, expansion and training, or the costs in lives and property damage from a LPG catastrophe. We should not put our dedicated and quietly heroic emergency personnel in harm’s way because of the proposed LPG facility. We urge you to deny this permit”

The following towns have voiced their concerns and have written letters expressing concern:  Belfast, Camden, Islesboro, Lincolnville, Matinicus, Montville, Northport, North Haven, Rockport and  Stockton Springs. In many cases, these letters have gone unanswered. We now need to put additional pressure on the Searsport Planning Board and ask them through regional local governments (like Islesboro) to deny the permit.  Ahead of the resumption of SPB hearings on February 11, please consider going to your local selectmen’s meeting this week and asking that they support a similar resolution in opposition to the tank and terminal as the one Islesboro has sent. Please consider speaking in public,  especially if you have not done so previously or ask where they stand in private; encourage them to attend the hearings and to investigate the “hidden” costs of this project. This week’s meetings, most are TONIGHT, TUESDAY AND THURSDAY are listed below:

Belfast City Council, Tuesday, February 5 at 7pm City Hall

Camden Select Board, Tuesday, February 5 at 6:30

Stockton Springs, Thursday, February 7, at 7pm

Montville Selectmen, Tuesday, February 5 at 7pm

Northport, Monday, February 4, at 6pm  (TONIGHT!!)

North Haven, Tuesday, February 5 at 4pm

Rockport, Select Board (Agenda Setting workshop) Monday, February 4at 7pm

Please check your town’s website or call town office if your town is not listed.

Who’s voted?

We hear all the time from the opposition that the people of Searsport have voted on this project and have approved it. THIS IS CATEGORICALLY FALSE. As many now know the vote at the 2012 Searsport Annual Town meeting was for or against a moratorium to hold the project for two months to study and assess the project. DCP hired people to go door to door and encourage people to come to the town meeting and vote against it. One estimate was they spent about $300,000 defeating the moratorium; it divided the town, the repercussions of which are still being felt.

Since then, let’s have a  look at some recent polls and voting:

On January 14, 2013  The Bangor Daily News held a poll question. “Do you think LPG and storage tank project is too risky for Searsport?”

You may not have seen the results below:

Yes:        786 (80.2%)

No:         194 (19.8%)

October 10, 2012 WABI-TV 5 held a “Question of the Day”.

“Should a liquid propane tank be built in Searsport?”

Yes:        204 (27%)

No:         548 (73%)

And we hear from more and more people daily, the more residents find out about this project, the stronger the opposition. Our message is spreading and people are starting to wake up to the very imminent realization this project could actually be approved and built.   Please keep in mind, at all times, this is not a done-deal, we still can make a difference and have our voices heard to defeat this project.

Rally to write and speak

Thanks to all who took the time to write, we have seen your work printed in all the papers (see the TBNT website “letters” page). Please continue to write; we need to keep this issue front and center. Please also consider speaking at the hearings; especially if you have an area of expertise, or can cover a point that has not been heard to date, or if you have been quietly been observing the hearings and need to have your voice heard if you have not spoken earlier. Here again, for convenience is the list of media outlets:

LETTERS to the EDITORS

PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, P.O. Box 1460, Portland, ME 04104-5009

letterstoeditor@pressherald.com

REPUBLICAN JOURNAL, 161 High Street, Belfast, ME 04915 338-3333 500 words or less

news@villagesoup.com

CAMDEN HERALD, 5 Bayview Landing, Camden, ME 04843

editor@villagesoup.com

FREEPRESS, 8 N. Main St, Suite 101, Rockland, ME 04841

copyedit@freepressonline.com

ELLSWORTH AMERICAN, 30 Water St, Ellsworth, ME 04605 207-667-2576

news@ellsworthamerican.com

FISHERMEN’S VOICE – comes out monthly

info@fishermensvoice.com

WORKING WATERFRONT – comes out monthly

(if letter has been published elsewhere, adapt a different version for them; 300 words, max)

editor@workingwaterfront.com

BANGOR DAILY NEWS, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402-1329 250 words max

letters@bangordailynews.com include name & town, daytime phone

Rallying: Not Slowing Down (Jan. 27)

This past Thursday, January 24, TBNT attorneys Steve Hinchman and Kim Ervin Tucker were in the Maine Superior Court with oral arguments in the appeal of the Maine Fuel Board permit issued to DCP Searsport LLC. The Court admonished the attorney for DCP for failing to follow the procedural rules by submitting a request for dismissal of our appeal and request for sanctions, rather than following the briefing schedule required in this type of proceeding. The judge actually described this filing by DCP as “Machiavellian” in nature. Regardless, the judge heard both sides argue the merits of the challenge to issuance of this permit by the Maine Fuel Board.  Our main point being the applicant, DCP Searsport LLC, filed for this permit and it was granted before they had title, right and interest in the property on which the tank and pipeline would be built — a requirement under Maine law that we believe applies to this type of permit. The Maine Fuel Board has asserted that ownership of the land is not required for issuance of a gas storage tank permit. Rather, the MFB asserts it can issue this permit to the “owner of the facility or facility equipment.” However, we have said that even under this standard, DCP Searsport LLC is not entitled to a permit. Indeed, even “DCP” identified 2 different entities as the “owner of the facility” (“DCP Midstream” and “DCP Searsport LLC”) in its submissions to the MFB. We anticipate a decision on this case in the next few weeks.

Rally to Stop Tar Sands

We also were in Portland this past Saturday with a number of organizations to take part in this large rally, estimates are that more than a thousand people of all ages that took part and stood together against the tar sands pipeline. Tar sands oil put through an aging pipeline (its 62 years old) present major risks to Maine’s environment, especially the Lake Sebago region. The Presidential permit for the US-Canada pipeline was granted years ago for oil and NOT tars sands. Among the people who spoke were Portland’s mayor who introduced Congresswoman Chellie Pingree who is firmly against this putrid project. By speaking briefly with Congresswoman Pingree, she made us aware she knows the risks from the mega-tank, the conclusions of Good Harbor, and as a resident of North Haven encourages us to keep fighting. We hope she will be able to standup for us and help our cause soon.  Check out the video here:

http://www.wmtw.com/news/maine/portland/Tar-Sands-Pipeline-opponents-gather-in-Monument-Square/-/8865266/18291928/-/jq0vb/-/index.html

Rally to Write

We still need to keep our issue in front of all eyes in the media. If you have not written, now is the time to let your views be known about the tank: please consider writing a letter. There is a whole lot of new information released with presentations, studies, and the Good Harbor report. All can be found on our website’s document page. Especially useful is anecdotal information regarding trucks and LPG tankers, stories about real estate values, or any other information regarding Searsport’s Planning Board performance standards. All the addresses to write follow:

LETTERS to the EDITORS

BANGOR DAILY NEWS, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402-1329                       250 words max

letters@bangordailynews.com   include name & town, daytime phone

PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, P.O. Box 1460, Portland, ME 04104-5009

letterstoeditor@pressherald.com

REPUBLICAN JOURNAL, 161 High Street, Belfast, ME 04915    338-3333           500 words or less

news@villagesoup.com

CAMDEN HERALD, 5 Bayview Landing, Camden, ME 04843

editor@villagesoup.com

FREEPRESS, 8 N. Main St, Suite 101, Rockland, ME 04841

copyedit@freepressonline.com

ELLSWORTH AMERICAN, 30 Water St, Ellsworth, ME 04605    207-667-2576

news@ellsworthamerican.com

FISHERMEN’S VOICE – comes out monthly

info@fishermensvoice.com

WORKING WATERFRONT – comes out monthly

      (if letter has been published elsewhere, adapt a different version for them; 300 words, max)

editor@workingwaterfront.com

Upcoming Meetings

The Searsport Planning Board will hold a Public Hearing on the Board of Appeals Ordinance Change. This hearing will take place this coming Wednesday, January 30 at 6:30 upstairs at Union Hall and will take on how the Board of Appeals handles upcoming appeals. This is a matter of fairness for all who will appear before this board for years to come. We would like big crowd to send the message that DCP should not be allowed to manipulate the process as it has in the past. Please plan to attend especially if you are Searsport resident.

Please consider making a donation to Thanks But No Tank.     Our address is PO Box 150, Searsport, ME      04974, or online by following this link.

Making More Friends (Jan 22)

In case you missed the news this past week, the planning board hearing last Wednesday night scheduled for the presentation of the Good Harbor All Hazards Risk Assessment was cancelled due to the snow. Richard Clarke is now scheduled and will give a presentation of the Good Harbor report to the Searsport Planning Board on February 11. The Good Harbor report recommended not proceeding with the project and the Searsport Planning Board must deny the permits.  Up until that time we will be working to expand our circles of friendship throughout the midcoast, to Portland and beyond.  We are particularly interested in having all elected representatives, public and safety officials of all towns aware of the report and at the hearing on the 11th.  Among the findings include impacts to mutual aid agreements and safety concerns, please consider:

Threats to maritime safety: There is insufficient water depth in both the harbor and at the pier for the intended deep-draft LPG import vessels; dredging must be completed to ensure under-keel clearance requirements (taxpayers must bear this expense);

Lack of public safety resources and capacity: Regional public safety and security resources are not currently sufficient to address a significant land-based or maritime incident; essential plans to address potential fires and explosions do not exist;

Lack of risk management planning: To date, regulators have not accounted for the full impact of necessary risk mitigation measures, nor do permits require implementation of hazard plans or cost sharing. GHT states “the absence of a cost sharing plan results in disproportionate levels of cost and responsibility being shifted from the facility operator (DCP Searsport LLC) to municipal, state and federal response organizations. These organizations will be faced with providing funding for any additional training, manpower, equipment… or choosing to forego important risk mitigation measures.”

Many questions, such as how often will dredging be required and where will the dredging spoils be deposited need to be asked and answered. The effects on fishing and lobstering are of great concern as dredging has not been done in the Searsport Channel in decades. We would like to activate all our friends who make their living on the water to alert them of the risks involved from this project; please forward this email their way.  We have been in contact with officials in Stockton Springs, Belfast, Lincolnville and Camden.  Should you have access to selectmen in Belmont, Frankfort, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont and Swanville or along Rte. 1A, Winterport, Hampden and Rte. 3, Montville, China, Palmero, etc. please get in touch with these folks – forward this email and ask they attend the hearing on February 11 at 6pm.  People should be outraged and make their feelings known to “send these corporate profiteers packing”. THIS IS A REGIONAL ISSUE.

To download the full Good Harbor Techmark All Hazards Assessment or separate sections, including the Executive Summary, follow this link.

Citizen’s reports

Two informed knowledgeable experts, David Italiaander and Abbie McMillen, created reports for the Searsport Planning Board and presented them the past week.   David Italiaander’s argument that DCP will export LPG is highly convincing. His slide show has been posted on our website and does not take long to read. In upstate New York a similar fight against an 88 Million gallon storage facility close to Seneca Lake.  Could fracked gas being brought and stored there be for export as well?  A link to Gas Free Seneca is here.

Abbie McMillen has years of business experience in the energy consulting field as well as experience on planning boards. She spent weeks conducting independent research to review the proposed DCP project and the 18 Searsport Planning Board review performance standards. She came to the conclusion the project would fail at least four standards and more information is needed to make decisions on others. Abbie has no affiliation with TBNT or DCP but has been kind enough to share her report with the public as well as the planning board. Both her report and the Italiaander report can be read by following this link.

We have a long way to go in our fight; we need as many people as we can find to help us and we hope to mobilize many residents of Maine to get involved, speak out and come to the hearings next month.  We saw this past week after long, laboring, time-wasting cross examinations by DCP attorneys of expert witnesses, only three members of the public were allowed to speak. We need a vigilant public to keep on top of this story and what is happening in Searsport. Public comment has been curtailed since last summer. Let’s be sure they hear from all of us soon.

We would like to share this new visual.  (Please see photo page) It was created by Maine Bob O’Connor, who earlier in January took a photo of our scale model and our circle action in Mosman Park and combined them to show how large the mega-tank is at the park. The pole in the center measures 17 and a quarter feet; 8 lengths bring us to the height of the tank.  A video about the Circle in Searsport has also been created, check it out.

Rally to Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline!

Our friends at 350 have statewide actions that start Wednesday; all culminating in a huge rally in Portland Saturday the 26. More info at www.350Maine.org.

Public Hearings Day 7 (Jan 18)

We proposed to the planning board tonight that Richard Clarke be allowed to present his report the week of February 11, 2013 despite verbal and written objections from DCP’s attorney.  The board voted to allow and he is scheduled now for February 11. If more days are needed the hearing will continue on February 12 and 13. Consequently, no further hearings will take place in January.

Following is an abridged version of tonight’s hearing.

First up was DCP’s hired appraiser, Norman Gosline, who earlier in the week inspected Tom Gocze’s abutting property on Long Cove. Mr. Gosline concluded since there was already a tank farm on Mack Point that adding another tank would have no effect on properties. Through cross examination we learned he does not hold a license as an appraiser, was not familiar with the DCP application and specifications to build a mega-tank and terminal, was not familiar with any of the blast zones, the Good Harbor Report, the Fannon report, and despite taking photos was convinced there was a view of the tank farms from Mr. Gocze’s back porch. Tom was called up to set the record straight and said “I’m not sure whose house you thought you were at—but there is no view of the existing tank farms”.  Tom went further and told the planning board the balloons (from the June balloon test, marking the tank’s height and site) were clearly visible. Further discussions on road access and town zoning followed. Mr. Gosline was paid to say there will be no impact. TBNT attorney Steve Hinchman put into evidence a letter from Tom’s real estate broker which described feedback that properties in Searsport, especially those with a view of the proposed tank are experiencing “a far greater reduction in buyer interest”.  Tom was followed by Searsport’s Rebekka Freeman who forcefully backed up this sentiment. Exit Mr. Gosline.

Next was a Q and A with DCP’s lead attorney and DCP project manager David Graham.  There were attempts to answer unresolved questions regarding the project including noise of the flare, the buildings and security, the sump, the trucks, the pipeline, etc.  The takeaway here was the final project engineering is not done; at this point anything can be substituted in or out, which is troubling. We still do not know specifics about the emergency flare. A question from the audience regarding assurances that DCP will pay decent wages in the construction and operating phases and would hire local workers. DCP’s general counsel responded by saying there has been contact with Maine’s unions but at this stage was non-committal.  In his view its still “premature”. This was followed-up by Searsport resident Meredith Ares who asked, “If they make all sorts of promises to get the permit, then how are we to be sure they will keep them”. Chairman Probert responded by saying “Yes, it’s a chicken and egg”.  Meredith: “Yes, but it’s your chicken and your egg”.  We have been told DCP will provide job descriptions and qualifications needed for the jobs being offered.  Let’s make sure they keep this promise, as well as the others tonight: following up on the insurance promises we were supposed to have by the end of 2012.

Abbie McMillen was next up with her independent study which she has been working on for the last month or so. Based on her review there are four performance standards DCP will pass, four will fail and 10 in the middle. More on her review will be coming.

Open to the public comment followed with about 10 minutes left: Speakers from Searsport, Winterport and Ellsworth spoke. One defended the project saying most folks against the project are retired, the second was about the same age did a great job telling the planning board to send this corporation packing back to Denver and the last made an impassioned argument to think about what Maine is about now and for future generations. More information about our road forward will be coming Sunday.

Public Hearings Day 6 (Jan 17)

Richard Clarke never made it to Searsport because of the weather, Wednesday’s hearing was cancelled. We have proposed to the Searsport Planning Board that Richard Clarke present the Good Harbor report the week of February 11. If you have not read the report, a link to it is on the tbnt.org website front page.  Following is a quick summary of what transpired at the hearing Thursday January 17.

Gas Exported

David Italiaander kicked off the hearings with a presentation of why DCP will export gas from the Searsport mega-tank. After listening and seeing his slides, a rational person will conclude this tank is being built for export. The bottom line is this: with the current (and projected) margins on the global LPG markets, DCP will lose about $20 Million dollars per 22.7M gallon tankload or close to $98 Million per year at their projected import volumes (not likely). DCP would lose $3M per year with the project standing still—not importing—waiting for the market to change (again, very doubtful). Or if the project were used as an export facility DCP could earn $320 Million—close to a THIRD OF BILLION DOLLARS—a year bringing to Searsport the number of trucks and rail cars filled with gas they are permitted for, storing at the mega-tank, and exporting to Europe or where-ever.  A real eye opener as to what is really happening – or going to happen here.  It appears a classic bait and switch – there is not going to be any “Propane for Maine”. Everything they have said cannot be trusted.  We will have his presentation on our website soon.

Property Devalued

David was followed by a property review panel containing local real estate agent Elaine Tucker who demonstrated the effect on the tank on four neighboring properties. These properties would suffer between 25 and 100% decrease in property values. She was joined by University of Maine faculty member Mark Anderson who rebutted major points of the Fannon economic impact study telling the planning board that people buy homes and visit mid coast Maine specifically for its high quality of life, scenery and peace and quiet; in short everything this project is not.

Retirees Contribute

Anne Crimaudo and Marjorie Knuuti testified on behalf of Searsport retirees.  Anne serves or served on what seemed like close to a dozen volunteer boards and organizations ranging from economic development, elections, and organizing the Searsport Animal Fund Endowment (SAFE). She and her husband retired and moved from New Jersey to enjoy all the good things Maine has to offer and to escape its industrialization. Marge Knuuti, was for many years a school nurse and volunteers at the Carver Library among her many activities. Marge told the board how on three occasions she asked DCP how much noise would the emergency flare produce. She never got an answer. She asked again tonight. DCP could not answer, in response we were told there are many types of flare manufacturers all with differing noise outputs. Perhaps they don’t want it revealed they will have a mega-flare to accompany the mega-tank?

Sears Island & Stockton Springs

Marietta Ramsdell, President of Friends of Sears Island spoke of the joys of Sears Island and how we are lucky to have such a great place right here. She told of how people have already told her that if the tank is constructed they will not come to visit the island—nor spend in any of the shops or restaurants in the area. Stockton residents Pat Roche and Joelle Madiec spoke similarly of the effects the tank will have on Stockton Springs and how our communities are connected.  Jillian Liversidge was the last to speak on this panel and delivered a heartfelt letter speaking of her daughter who attends Searsport elementary school and her firsthand experience living in Harpswell and enduring the battle over the siting of an LNG facility there.  Her letter can be read here.

The evening ended with a cross examination of Angler’s appraiser, Ted Webbersin.  When the time came for Angler’s attorney, Ed Bearor to set the record straight, Mr. Webbersin read Facebook postings among tank proponents, including the former fire chief, to boycott local business owners who dared to question the tank.

Upcoming

Tomorrow night will have more cross examinations and the conclusions of another independent study. There will be time scheduled for public comment. Please invite everyone you know to come to the hearings to have their voice heard as we want to have another night of overwhelming support against the tank. But please keep in mind the authority the planning board has and their guidelines and ordinances.  It is ideal to tailor your remarks to include as much evidence that speaks to these ordinances listed below:

Planning Board Authority

The Planning Board has the authority and the responsibility under Searsport ordinances to consider our concerns about (a) impacts to the health, safety and welfare of humans and (b) impacts to natural resources, including their economic values.

This authority and responsibility flows from the following Searsport ordinances:

Development Review Ordinance, SECTION I – PURPOSE

“Development or changes in the uses of land can cause a profound impact upon the cost and efficiency of municipal services and upon the environment of the town. Such development can impact schools, sewers, waterlines and other public utilities: recreational facilities; liquid and solid waste disposal; police and fire protection; open space; road systems and circulation; traffic congestion; placement of building(s) and structure(s); property values; water quality; the aesthetic and visual characteristics of the neighborhood and town, and the general health, safety and welfare of the community. It is the purpose of this Ordinance to control such impacts when caused by development…”

 

Land Use Ordinance PURPOSES

“The purposes of the Ordinance are as follows:

“1. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN IMPLEMENTATION: To implement the policies and recommendations of the Searsport Comprehensive Plan;

“2. PROTECTION OF THE GENERAL WELFARE: To assure the comfort, convenience, safety, health and welfare of the present and future inhabitants of the Town of Searsport; and

“4. PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT: To protect and enhance the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the Town from unacceptable adverse impacts and to integrate new development harmoniously into the Town’s natural environment.”

 

Land Use Ordinance, Section V.A. General Standards

“All proposed development shall be in conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and Policy Statements of the Town contained within the Plan and with the provisions of all pertinent local ordinances and regulations, State laws and Federal regulations.”

Searsport Comp Plan (p. A-2)

“To protect the state’s critical natural resources, including, without limitation, wetlands, wildlife and fisheries habitat, sand dunes, shorelands, scenic vistas and unique natural areas.

“To protect the state’s marine resources industry, ports, and harbors from incompatible development and to promote access to the shore for commercial fishermen and the public. To safeguard the state’s agricultural and forest resources from development that threatens those resources.

“[Still quoting the Comp Plan…] The following is a list of the state’s 9 coastal policies:

“To promote the maintenance, development and revitalization of the state’s ports and harbors for fishing, transportation and recreation.

“To manage the marine environment and its related resources to preserve and improve the ecological integrity and diversity of marine communities and habitats, to expand our understanding of the productivity of the Gulf of Maine and coastal waters and to enhance the economic value of the state’s renewable marine resources.

“To support shoreline management that gives preference to water-dependent uses over other uses, that promotes access to the shoreline and that considers the cumulative effects of development on coastal resources.

“To discourage growth and new development in coastal areas where, because of coastal storms. flooding, landslides or sea-level rise, it is hazardous to human health and safety.

“To encourage and support cooperative state and municipal management of coastal resources.

“To protect and manage critical habitat and natural areas of state and national significance and maintain the scenic beauty and character of the coast even in areas where development occurs.

“To expand the opportunities for outdoor recreation and encourage appropriate coastal tourist activity and development.

“To restore and maintain the quality of our fresh, marine and estuarine waters to allow for the broadest possible diversity of public and private uses.

“To restore and maintain coastal air quality to protect the health of citizens and visitors and to protect enjoyment of the natural beauty and maritime characteristics of the Maine coast.”

 

Comp Plan Section K, Land Use:

“Comprehensive planning recognizes the importance of regional cooperation. The land uses in one community can impact another community, particularly when that land use is located near the boundaries of the town.”

Development Review Ordinance SECTION VI – PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

SECTION VI – PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

The following standards are to be used by the Planning Board in judging applications for site plan review and shall serve as minimum requirements for approval of the site plan. The site plan shall be approved, unless in the judgment of the Planning Board, the applicant is not able to reasonably meet one or more of the following standards. In all instances the burden of proof shall be on the property owner and shall include the production of evidence necessary to complete the application.

1. Preserve and Enhance the Landscape: The landscape shall be preserved in its natural state insofar as is practicable by minimizing tree removal, disturbance of soil, and by retaining existing vegetation during construction. After construction is completed, landscaping shall be designed and planted that will define, soften or screen the appearance of off-street parking areas from public walks, public rights-of-way, and abutting properties and/or structures, in order to enhance the physical design of the building(s) or site, and to minimize the encroachment of the proposed use on neighboring lands and uses. For commercial and industrial subdivisions, due consideration shall also be given the location of building(s), parking areas and other structures, within those areas of the property to be subdivided, that are most suitable for such uses. Areas deemed unsuitable for development, or possessing important natural or scenic values shall be maintained in a natural condition. In this regard, particular consideration shall be given Shoreland and marine resources.

2. Relationship of Proposed Buildings to Environment: Proposed building(s) or structure(s) shall be related harmoniously with the surrounding terrain and to existing buildings within the vicinity which have a visual relationship to the proposed building(s) or structure(s). Special attention shall be paid to the bulk, location, height, and siding of the building(s) or structure(s) and to such natural features as slope, soil type, drainage ways, and important wildlife habitats.

3. Vehicle Access: The proposed site layout shall provide for safe access and egress from existing or proposed public and private roads. The layout shall indicate the location(s), number(s), and any on-site control(s) of these access/egress points, as well as any turning lanes and traffic signs or signals when required by existing or projected traffic flow on the existing or proposed public and private roads.

4. Parking and Circulation: The layout and design of all means of vehicular and pedestrian circulation, including walkways, interior drives and parking areas shall provide for safe general interior circulation, separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, service traffic, loading areas, and arrangement and use of parking areas.

5. Surface Water Drainage: Adequate provision shall be made for surface drainage so that the removal of surface waters will not adversely affect neighboring properties, downstream water quality, soil erosion, slope stability or public storm drainage systems. Whenever possible, on-site absorption of run-off surface waters shall be utilized as a means of minimizing discharge from the site and to retain the natural drainage patterns.

6. Existing Utilities: The development shall not impose an unreasonable adverse effect on sewers, sanitary and storm drains, water lines or other public utilities.

7. Advertising Features: The size, location, design, lighting and materials for all exterior signs and outdoor advertising structure(s) or features shall not detract from the design of the proposed building(s) and structure(s) and the surrounding properties.

8.Special Features of the Development: Exposed storage areas, exposed machinery installation, service areas, truck loading areas, utility buildings and similar structure(s) shall have sufficient  setbacks and

and screening so as to provide an audio/visual buffer sufficient to minimize their unreasonable adverse effect on other land uses within the development area and surrounding properties, and on recreational uses of public waters.

9. Exterior Lighting: All exterior lighting shall be designed so as to minimize unreasonable adverse effect upon neighboring properties.

10. Emergency Vehicle Access: Provisions shall be made for providing and maintaining convenient and safe emergency vehicle access to ail buildings and structures at all times.

11.Municipal Services; The development will not have an unreasonable adverse effect on the municipal services, including municipal road systems, fire departments, police department, solid waste program, sewage treatment plant, schools, open spaces, recreational programs and facilities, and other municipal services and facilities.

12. Water Pollution: Adequate provision shall be made to prevent an unreasonable adverse effect upon the quality of water. In addressing this matter, the layout plan shall indicate consideration of land elevation above sea level and its relationship to the flood plains, as well as the nature of soils and sub-soils and their ability to adequately support waste disposal. The layout plan shall also show consideration of the general slope of the land, and the slope’s effect on effluents, any aquifer and aquifer re-charge areas; availability of streams or brooks for surface water runoff; the effect of project surface water runoff on Shoreland and marine resources; and applicable federal, state and local laws, ordinances, codes and regulations.

13. On Site Water Supply: The layout site plan shall indicate that sufficient water supply is available for reasonably foreseeable needs of the development without causing an unreasonable adverse effect on an existing water supply.

14, Soil Erosion: The development shall not cause unreasonable soil erosion nor a reduction in the capacity of the land to retain surface water, resulting in a dangerous or unhealthy condition.

15. Septaqe Disposal: The layout plan shall provide for adequate septage waste disposal in conformance with pertinent state and federal laws.

16. Adverse Effects: The development shall not have unreasonable adverse effects upon the scenic or natural beauty of the area, historic sites, important wildlife habitats or rare and irreplaceable natural areas or property values.

17. Financial Capacity: The applicant shall demonstrate adequate financial and technical capacity to meet above standards.

18. Air Quality: the development shall not significantly add to the existing air pollution.

 

Circle 2 in Searsport and January News (Jan 6)

Photo:  Peter Wilkinson

Nearly 200 people gathered at Searsport’s Mosman Park on Saturday, January 5 to demonstrate the sheer magnitude of proposed LPG mega-tank.  Concerned citizens from Searsport lined up hand-in-hand with friends from all over the mid coast to form the tank’s gigantic footprint.  The weather cooperated nicely; the sun was shining off the snow creating a great mood enhancer—everyone was in a super resilient mood while walking the circle. Participants listened to original songs by Emilia Dahlin and George Skala, poems by Karin Spitfire and Elizabeth Garber and the big drum by Peter Baldwin.  Inspiring speeches were given and the event was covered by two TV stations.  Many thanks to all that came and participated to make it a huge success. Special thanks to the volunteers and especially Peter and Maryjean whose efforts are tireless.

CHANNEL 2 NEWS coverage:
http://www.wlbz2.com/news/article/226962/3/Citizens-circle-up-against-proposed-tank

Upcoming

Please mark your calendar: January 16, 17, and 18, 6:00pm, the Searsport Planning Board public hearings resume at the Searsport District High School. We anticipate the entire first night will be dedicated to the presentation by Good Harbor Consulting. Following will be more testimony from TBNT and interested parties and more public comments. Stay tuned for more details.

Local Meetings

Our friends have been going to local town government meetings this past week asking their selectmen to attend the Searsport Planning Board public hearings, especially the Jan. 16 Good Harbor presentation night.  We would like all area selectmen and city councilors to attend the hearings. Please go to your local town’s meetings and ask for your representatives to attend. Bring up issues of safety and mutual aid;  the fact there have not been guarantees DCP will provide 100% coverage in case of an accident; and also the issue of the tank being presented as an import (“Propane for Maine”) terminal, while there have been no assurances it will be used as an export facility. These are just some of the questions that were brought up at the November hearings. More will follow.

A number of town government meetings are coming up.

Lincolnville: Monday, January 7th, 6PM, Lincolnville Town Office

Camden:  Tuesday, January 8th 6:30 pm.

Northport:  Monday, January 7 at 6pm

Montville: Tuesday, January 8th, 7pm

North Haven:  Tuesday, January 8th 4pm

Rockport: Monday, January 14th 7pm

Please go to your town’s meeting and ask your selectmen or city councilors to attend the hearings and ask questions. Remember: THIS IS A REGIONAL ISSUE.

Tuesday in Augusta: The Rally of Unity!

Join the Rally of Unity!

…for our people AND our environment on the first day of the 126th Legislature !

A collaboration by:

The Alliance for Common Good

*JANUARY 8                          STATE HOUSE                 AUGUSTA*

NOON : Rally between State House and Cross Building

Carry signs and banners to represent your issues, sing songs, Spokespeople talk to media!

1 PM :  Move into Hall of Flags for more rallying, gather of stairs for photo, quick speech, etc.

The Alliance for Common Good is an ad-hoc coalition assembling as a unified front under the theme, “Maine the Possible” to give voice to ordinary Maine people and to push back against corporate dominance in government, with hopes to organize into the future.

Principles agreed on:

Maine $$ for Maine People, A Maine Economy that Protects our Environment, and Money Out of Politics

 

This rally is an opportunity to come together, in solidarity with over 20 other environmental and social justice groups across the state, to tell our legislators to represent US by protecting our homes, health, and quality of life.  See you there!

Carpools will leave from Waterfall Arts in Belfast at 10:15 on Tuesday morning.

Online Petition

Lastly (and importantly), we are now closing in on 5000 signatures for the online petition. We very much want to make it to this level by the time the hearings resume on January 16. Now is the time to sign the petition if you have not already. If you have signed, please forward this email to a friend, relative, neighbor or anyone that will help us keep the mega-tank away from Penobscot Bay.  It takes no more than 30 seconds to sign and send a message to the Searsport Planning Board. Please do it today. Link to the petition is here.

Moving Forward on Our Appeal (Dec 23)

On December 4, 2012, TBNT filed an appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (“the Law Court”) challenging the permit that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) granted to DCP Midstream Partners, LP, in 2011 to build an LPG mega-tank and import terminal.  The Kennebec Superior Court ruled against our 2011 challenge of this permit in an order issued on November 13, 2012.  We feel we have strong grounds for appeal of this permit and are optimistic about our ultimate chances for success in the Law Court – especially on our challenge of DEP’s refusal to consider the significant safety threats posed by this proposed facility.
Firstly, DCP altered their original plans as specified by the permit to a much more dangerous arrangement.  On December 11, 2012, while our appeal was still pending in the Maine Law Court, DEP transferred its 2011 permit from DCP Midstream Partners, to its shell company – DCP Searsport LLC — and granted a significant change in the route for the mile-long LPG transfer pipeline authorized by the original permit.  DCP and DEP called this amendment a “minor revision” though this new route is significantly more dangerous to the environment and the surrounding population — it will take a vulnerable, above-ground pipeline through the 31 existing Irving and Sprague fuel tanks at Mack Point and their approximately 55 million gallons of volatile petrochemicals.
Additionally, there is a problem in that DCP and DEP modified the permit.  In 4 decades of prior Court decision­­­s, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that Maine administrative agencies were incapable of modifying permits and licenses while they are under appeal.   When DCP filed applications on October 22, 2012, asking to transfer and modify the 2011 DEP permits, TBNT objected – telling DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho that she and DEP lacked the jurisdiction to amend or transfer the permit while TBNT’s 2011 appeal of the permit was pending.  However, DEP modified the permit on December 12, 2012.
Because these modifications to the permit were entered by DEP in the absence of any authority, on December 19, TBNT requested that the Law Court declare the 2012 permit modifications by DEP null and void.  To allow DEP to amend a permit while an appeal is pending would force TBNT to file a second appeal against the same permit, for the same project, on essentially the same grounds. To allow such modifications during an appeal would be confusing and wasteful.  DCP and DEP should not be allowed to keep moving the goal posts on permits that are already the subject of an appeal.
We believe that the Law Court will reject DCP and DEP’s intrusion on its authority to review the case and will nullify the 2012 amended permit.  We also remain hopeful about our ultimate chances for success on the 2011 appeal.  Stay tuned – we continue to move forward in our fight against this dangerous proposed LPG import terminal and storage facility.

Mark your Calendar & Grow our Circle.

Building on the strength of our showing at public comment at the public hearings, we will be building a Circle of Resistance 2, this time in Searsport.  We will gather at Mosman Park in Searsport on Saturday, January 5th at 1pm to form the human-chain circle, the 202 foot diameter representing the actual size of the proposed tank.  Anyone concerned about this project, ESPECIALLY SEARSPORT CITIZENS, is invited and encouraged to participate in this dramatic, one hour event, and to witness just how massive the proposed tank would be. Snow date is January 12. Join us again, or for the first time. Bring music, poetry and of course, your energy to share in the Circle of Resistance 2.
TBNT would like to wish all our members, supporters, friends and readers a safe and very happy holiday season.

Searsport Update

Since our office opened in Searsport supporters come by every so often and share insights, offer encouragement, make donations and pick up yard signs. The office is at 21 East Main St (548-1106) in the old Left Bank Building. Additionally, we have a real 3-D scale model which can be seen at 33 E. Main St. This is all good news. While some supporters have insight to the inner workings of Searsport we would like to share Christine Parrish’s cover story “Serving the Public” in the Free Press this past week. Please take a moment to read this important story if you have not already done so. The link is below.
 http://www.freepressonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=52&SubSectionID=465&ArticleID=20902
We continue our work preparing for the next round of public hearings; uncovering and creating more information which will be useful and working with more speakers and distributing information.  Be sure to sign the online petition, if you have not done so already. The goal is to present it to the planning board in January with more than 5000 signatures; this will make a bold statement. The link to the petition is here. Plans are also in the works to create an improved “Circle of Resistance” photo – this time in Searsport in early January—we would like to gather more people this time to demonstrate our resolve is steadfast; please stay tuned for further details.
Some members and friends of TBNT took part in Boulder, Colorado’s KGNU radio show “Connections” with a Longmont, CO group that has successfully fought fracking in their community.  The last part of the show has some good insights which tie us both together. This link to download is below.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ko8vvzsxfxsmugw/KGNU%2012.14.12%20broadcast.mp3

Special Update: Sissonville, WV

WSAV-tvPHOTO: WSAV-TV

In case you missed the news on Dec. 11: a gas line in Sissonville, West Virginia exploded Tuesday afternoon and destroyed 4 homes. Flames were seen a hundred feet in the air and a portion of Interstate 77 was destroyed. Luckily there were no injuries as the blast happened in the early afternoon; this would be a very different tragic story if this happened later in the day or at night.  Please click below for NBC news report:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/11/15845530-gas-line-explodes-in-west-virginia-homes-burn-freeway-damaged?lite

The quote from Brian Williams, “a fiery explosion is the latest reminder that when you have to live near dangerous materials, dangerous things can sometimes happen”.  No more needs to be said.

Here is the local news follow up report with more detailed information:

http://www.wsaz.com/breaking/home/BREAKING-NEWS–Explosion-Reported-in-Sissonville-183019371.html

Susan Collins

Just a quick reminder, please call Susan Collins office if you have not done so already this week. Please tell her your concerns about the LPG mega-tank in Searsport.

WASHINGTON OFFICE, (202) 224-2523.

IN AUGUSTA, (207) 622-8414

About that Safety Record…

On December 5, a leak in a gas pipeline in West Texas, near the DCP gas plant in Goldsmith triggered a large explosion. Please see the news report and video. Luckily, there were no injuries but watch take a moment to watch the video and hear the reaction of the town’s residents. Now picture something like this happening near Rte. 1, Angler’s restaurant. It is easy to see why the appraiser Angler’s hired testified during the hearings the restaurant would be left virtually unsalable if the mega-tank was built. Accidents happen all the time. Pipeline accidents do occur and with some degree of frequency. Often smaller incidents or accidents go unnoticed or cannot be fixed and travel up the line and trigger larger failures and in some cases, catastrophic accidents. If you have not read Tara Hollander’s excellent op ed in the Bangor Daily News, please do so now and post a comment. Tara carefully researched DCP’s record online and uncovered information about DCP and their cost of doing business. This information is now in the hands of the Searsport Planning Board for review. Every resident of the mid Coast should also be aware of DCP’s safety track record.

For those who may be unfamiliar, this project is more than a mega-tank; we would need thousands of people to generate a human footprint of the entire 24-acre complex. It is an entire terminal of equipment including ship unloading facilities, a mile-long pipeline that bisects the existing Irving and Sprague tank farms to the bulk storage mega-tank, four truck loading stations, an eight-car train loading station, four ethyl-mercaptan storage tanks (this is the chemical odorant), a 90,000 gallon pressurized LPG fuel storage tank, three propane-fired outdoor heaters, a 75 feet tall emergency propane flare, an emergency diesel-fueled generator (that will not cool the mega-tank) and fire water pump, an administration building, compressor and motor control center buildings, five electric compressors, an electric fin cooler, four electric loading pumps and miles or additional above-ground pipes and valves. In short, there are a myriad of places in addition to all the trucks and ships where an accident can happen. During the hearings, when DCP was asked about security, we were informed by DCP officials that information could not be released to the public for “security” reasons; in essence, we would have to trust the company and the Searsport Planning Board that appropriate security measures would be taken. They would not even share this information with Richard A. Clarke and Good Harbor for independent review and assessment.

We certainly will know more about safety, specifically risk assessment, when the Good Harbor report is concluded. We look forward to the hearings resuming in January but until that time there is much work to be done. We ask that you keep writing to the newspapers and the planning board, especially if you have not done so before. Also, if you have a direct contact to any member of the national media—reporters, writers or producers, please let us know if they are able to assist.

Update on Susan Collins Action

The meetings with Susan Collins’ representatives went well. We had solid representation and received good reviews from meetings in Belfast, Camden, Topsham and South Portland. Thanks to all for taking who took the time out of your day to meet and express concerns. If you called or sent her a letter, again thank you. If you have not made the call, please do so to her Washington or Augusta offices:

WASHINGTON OFFICE, (202) 224-2523.

IN AUGUSTA, (207) 622-8414

Please find 5 minutes during your week to make this call. Tell Senator Collins you are concerned and why she and the Federal government should be involved in making this decision and not the Searsport Planning Board.

Videos

The first day of video from the Public Hearing is available for viewing. You can find it as well as audio from the entire week under www.tbnt.org “video” page.

Yard Signs

More signs are going up especially on Route 1, this is good news. Thanks if you have posted a yard sign. If not, it’s definitely not too late, please drop by our office in Searsport, 21 E. Main St (old Bank Building) and pick one up. The telephone number is 548-1106.

Donate

Also our website is designed for making an easy donation. Please click the donate button, any size donation can be made with any major credit card or drop by our office.