SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Hundreds turned out Monday for a city council workshop, to hear more about the possibility of tar sands coming to Maine through an existing crude oil pipeline.
The council invited the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Portland Pipe Line Corporation to give presentations. Dylan Voorhees of NRCM showed slide after slide illustrating the hazards of tar sands. He says the substance is too thick to pipe normally through pipe lines, so it's diluted with toxic chemicals, and spills are more frequent than crude oil and more difficult to clean up.
Portland Pipe Line CEO Larry Wilson refuted those statements. His presentation cited the company's history as a South Portland local business, and assured residents that their neighbors who work for the company make safety their top priority.
The majority of the people who spoke during public comment said they did not want tar sands coming to Maine.
"I am raising two small boys and we hang out at Bug Light quite often, have a picnic and watch the boats," Gina Correia of South Portland said. "But I definitely would not do that with massive smoke stacks putting out more emissions. I would also be concerned about taking them to local beaches. I also have pretty big concerns about tar sands, and the more I learn the more scared I am that we're going to bring that into this beautiful state."
Bill Van Voorhis works for Cianbro, and defended Portland Pipe Line's reputation.
"I do know safety and environmental safety are number one with that company," Van Voorhis told councilors. "Since the 70's we've installed oil boom for them before the Coast Guard mandated it. We have done inspection work for them in the rivers all the way to the Canadian border. I have personally dove on these inspections and I know there is no skimping, there is not cutting corners for any of their safety."
The council asked questions, but did not take any action Monday.
In January, the Portland City Council considered a ban on tar sands. They voted to send that proposal back to committee.