Maine Town Considers a 137-Foot Tall Propane Tank

Rocky Beach in Searsport, Maine. The town is the proposed site for a new propane terminal. (image: Bob Fenton via

As we wrote about last month, the town of Searsport, Maine, is being courted by a national propane wholesaler as the proposed site for a sea terminal. The Denver-based DCP Midstream wants to build an intermodal pit stop at the town’s Mack Point, where propane would arrive by ship and be carried away by truck and rail.

It’s the kind of development that puts its imprint on the town, increasing traffic at the port and adding jobs. But when about 30 Searsport citizens met to discuss the project earlier this week, it was the effect on the local skyline that seemed to lie at the heart of the debate: What would it look like to add a 137-foot tall, 26-million gallon propane tank?

For some folks, that question seemed to determine the identity of Searsport. One woman told the Bangor Daily News, “I’m wary about becoming the town with the tank … that labels us as an industrial place.” Meanwhile, competing voices said the town should abandon its dreams of becoming a tourist destination, and embrace the economic development.

But before the plans move forward, the roof would need to be raised on current building ordinances. As it stands, structures must be 60 feet or under in town — a rule city leaders will consider changing at a meeting in March. Meantime, a DCP rep who attended the meeting hinted that the energy company could always pull out. “If the maximum height’s 60 feet, there’s no sense in us applying,” he said.

Worth noting: The tank would add to the ever slim New England propane inventory. When full, it would hold more than 600,000 barrels of the liquefied gas. As of last week, the New England region had 438,000 barrels in reserve, according to federal data.

Of course, Searsport isn’t the first place to feel self-conscious about putting a large propane tank on the property. And though a fake rock is probably out of the question, they could consider hiring T.J. Darwin, the propane tank Picasso.

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