Propane tank protest draws more than 100 in Searsport

Posted Nov. 19, 2011, at 4:43 p.m.
Judy Kaiser, 70, of Waldo, stood in the cold Saturday in Searsport to protest a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town.
Judy Kaiser, 70, of Waldo, stood in the cold Saturday in Searsport to protest a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town.
Randall Parr, 67, of Appleton, shouted through half a milk gallon to a crowd of protesters. About 100 people gathered in Searsport on Saturday to rally against a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town.
Randall Parr, 67, of Appleton, shouted through half a milk gallon to a crowd of protesters. About 100 people gathered in Searsport on Saturday to rally against a plan to build a large propane storage tank in town. Buy Photo

SEARSPORT, Maine — More than 100 people stood on the side of Route 1 by an Irving gas station Saturday to protest a plan to build a $40 million, 138-foot-tall liquid propane terminal at Mack Point. Vehicles driving by — including at least one Shell fuel truck — honked with support.

One protester was 70-year-old Judy Kasier of Waldo, who waved her handmade “No Tank” sign at people who drove by.

“I came here today because I am outraged at the possibility there might be such an industrial project in midcoast Maine where we rely so heavily on tourism,” Kaiser said Saturday.

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

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

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

On Saturday afternoon, protesters signed a petition to try to stop the tank from getting town approval. According to Astrig Tanguay, 45, of Searsport, the petition will ask that the town declare a moratorium on building tanks until an impact study can be conducted.

Tanguay, a local business owner, fears the huge tank will dramatically increase truck traffic and make coastal Route 1 less desirable for tourists to drive on. If traffic gets rerouted, Searsport businesses might miss out on tourists’ shopping stops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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