Maine Fuel Tank Promoters Fight Back

Protesters in Searsport, Maine are fighting plans for a giant liquid propane tank on the waterfront despite a PR offensive from DCP Midstream. (image: waldo.villagesoup.com)

A national propane wholesaler which plans to build a giant liquid propane tank in Maine has gone on a PR offensive to correct what it labels misinformation being spread by project opponents, bangordailynews.com reports.

DCP Midstream has opened a campaign headquarters in Searsport to promote plans for a $40 million propane terminal that includes a towering 138-foot-tall, 26-million gallon tank. Locals have staged protests against the project, which they say will blight the town’s waterfront and dwarf exiting tanks. There are also concerns about increased truck traffic and safety fears relating to the large-scale storage of propane.

However, Denver-based company spokeswoman Roz Elliott said she was confident officials could prove the project would result in overall benefits for Searsport. “We really want to make sure folks get the facts.”

The company plans to hold town hall meetings, job fairs and trade fairs in a bid to persuade residents about the project’s worth. Company officials insist the new terminal will be safe and won’t generate excessive truck or tanker ship traffic. They also say the project will create good jobs and help provide fuel security for Maine.

DCP Midstream has yet to submit a permit application for the terminal project. But if built as described, four to six propane tanker ships each year will offload the liquid fuel from the North Sea at an existing cargo pier. The propane would be pumped through a mile-long pipeline to the huge tank at the DCP terminal.

The size of that tank has been a focal point for project opposition. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has signed a permit for a 138-foot-tall propane tank. The propane would remain in liquid form, cooled to 45 degrees below zero, and eventually be offloaded to trucks and rail cars at the terminal for distribution throughout Maine and potentially to other locations in northern New England.

“If something comes in of this size, it’s going to change our entire landscape here,” Astrig Tanguay of Thanks but no Tank said last month. “We want to frame the conversation, ‘How will this benefit our town and our region?’”

The project is expected to generate 12 to 15 full-time jobs. Additionally, a work force of about 100 people would be employed over 18 months to construct the terminal.

DCP Midstream spokesman Jeff Hurteau said despite opponents’ fears, the terminal would be safe. “There’s a lot of misinformation,” he said. “We just want to provide the correct information.

“Even the opponents of this project, if we go forward, they’ll benefit,” he said.

DCP Midstream officials are planning a town hall meeting to discuss the terminal project.