by David Carkhuff
Portland Daily Sun news story
Protesters of Canadian tar sands oil dressed in black to symbolize an oil spill, while at least one depicted a mermaid, in a rally Thursday at the Portland Water District headquarters in Portland.
Fae Silverman appeared as “Sandy Dawn Rosenfin,” a “merperson” from Sebago Lake, to protest the possible transport via pipeline of tar sands oil through the Sebago Lake watershed.
The rally coincided with the third anniversary of a tar sands spill at the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, which stemmed from failure of an Enbridge pipeline.
Protesters on Thursday gathered “to denounce oil industry efforts to pump thick, heavy tar sands oil through the 63-year-old pipeline â which traverses the â to Portland Harbor for export,” a press release noted. “In addition to being a recreational mecca, Sebago Lake provides Portland Water District’s drinking water, supplying 200,000 people â 1 in 7 Mainers. This water would be threatened by a tar sands oil spill, which would be nearly impossible to clean up.”
Rally participants, including residents who have worked to pass resolutions opposing the tar sands pipeline, called on U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to join with the other members of Maine’s delegation and seek full environmental review of any tar sands oil pipeline proposal in Maine.
“Three years ago today, a massive tar sands oil spill polluted 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan,” said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director, Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Three years and a billion dollars later, the Kalamazoo River is still polluted. It is clearer than ever: Maine cannot afford the risk from a tar sands pipeline crossing our state and its lakes, rivers, and bays. That is why today, we call on Senator Susan Collins to join with the rest of Maine’s Congressional delegation and ask the U.S. State Department to require a new Presidential Permit and full environmental review of any tar sands pipeline through Maine.”
“Tar sands pose an unacceptable threat to our fisheries, drinking water, and way of life. A spill here could be a disaster of catastrophic proportions â polluting Sebago Lake and potentially our drinking water and forever changing the place we love,” said Eliot Stanley, board member of the Sebago Lake Anglers Association. Proximity of the pipeline to the lake has not been well publicized in Maine, he said.
“We need to learn from history so we don’t repeat mistakes,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor. “The Kalamazoo spill tragically demonstrates the risks of pumping tar sands through our communities. We will not let Big Oil risk so much here in Maine for the sole purpose of increasing their profits.” A national review of the Michigan spill found that exterior corrosion, but not internal issues, contributed to the spill.
This week, the South Portland Planning Board met for about four hours to review a proposed Waterfront Protection Ordinance prior to the South Portland City Council meeting next month to act on the citizen’s initiative. “Concerned Citizens of South Portland” prepared and sponsored a citizen’s initiative, collecting 3,793 signatures in 11 days, an ordinance to restrict tar sands in the city.