Board members of the Friends of Sears Island, or FOSI, feel compelled to express serious concerns regarding the proposed construction and development of a liquid propane gas, or LPG, terminal by DCP Midstream Partners at Mack Point in Searsport.
Six-hundred-one acres of Sears Island have been designated by the state of Maine as a conservation area with an easement held by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The mission of FOSI is to support permanent protection of Sears Island’s environmental and cultural resources, preserve its marine, shoreland and forest ecosystems and encourage educational and low impact recreational uses of the island.
With its five miles of undeveloped shoreline, its inland trails and fields, Sears Island’s popularity grows each year. Many come to observe the rich biological diversity and use the surrounding waters. Sears Island is a place of respite for those with busy lives.
We believe that the construction, including the clear-cutting of 22-plus acres, and the operation of the proposed DCP LPG terminal are capable of causing irreparable damage. This facility will adversely affect existing uses, the scenic character and water and air quality in the midcoast area of Penobscot Bay.
FOSI anticipates the following adverse affects, whether immediate, long term or cumulative:
Health threats include the added air and water pollution. As per DCP’s permit application, 108 tons of pollutant will be released into the air, which is frequently heavy and moist from fog banks, thus keeping airborne pollutants close to the ground. This threatens the wildlife and the public. Long Cove would become polluted from seeping surface and groundwaters that contain chemicals, diesel fuel and hydraulic fluids.
Excessive repetitive, tonal noise influences mood and behavior, degrades the health and welfare of wildlife as well as the public. DCP has omitted from its permit application the noise of the flare and the other industrial activities on site.
FOSI is concerned about the potential for catastrophic accidents, whether they occur at the terminal or on Route 1. Even lesser accidents could include spills, fires and explosions. The increased traffic from DCP in the winter months adds to the risk due to inclement weather and dangerous road conditions.
Adverse visual impacts are imminent if the terminal is built. Its massive 138-foot-tall storage tank, 75-foot flare and other elements of the project would be clearly visible from the causeway and much of Sears Island, as well as far down Penobscot Bay.
In conclusion, FOSI believes the construction and operation of the LPG terminal by DCP will negatively impact air and water, and environmental, light and sound qualities of the island and surrounding areas and will threaten current uses and access for the public. These pollutants would also be detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of its visitors, wildlife and natural resources.
Furthermore, we are gravely concerned that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has granted a permit to DCP in violation of its own rules, as as set forth in the Natural Resources Protection Act, 38 M.R.S.A.
This OpEd was written by Janet Flint of Searsport on behalf of the board of directors of Friends of Sears Island: Jay Economy, McCormack Economy, Joelle Madiec, Bob Ramsdell, Marietta Ramsdell and Susan White.