R. Holme: A dangerous proposal


I am concerned about any proposal to have tar sands oil running through the pipeline from Montreal to Portland, through Maine communities and near Maine rivers.

Pipelines have issues. The current pipeline is old (some say beyond life expectancy); it is not deeply buried, as it was laid when a deeper depth was not required; and it is the cheapest way to transport large quantities of a liquid.

Tar sands oil is more abrasive than regular crude oil; it requires more pressure and/or heat to pump; and often has very corrosive, flammable and/or explosive chemicals or gases added to dilute it for pumping. Some of those must be burned off before the product is put onto a ship, which adds pollutants to the air.

Few (if any) benefits to local communities are added by reversing the current pipe’s direction and pumping that material. The towns will not see any increase in tax revenue, and any additional workforce requirements will be short term.

So why triple the possibility of a leak (those are the statistics for tar sands over regular oil)? A spill could ruin local water sources and harm the local economy (including reduced tourism). Add burned off chemical residues to the air and the possible contamination Portland’s (and other) water supplies …

The pristine Crooked River, the Androscoggin and the Presumpscot could be irrevocably damaged.

I care about the water I drink and the air I breathe. Those are two of many reasons I love Maine.

Ray Holme, Waterford

Editor’s note: Although Enbridge has filed an application with Canada’s National Energy Board to reverse the flow of a pipeline to move crude oil from Westover to Montreal, it denies any current plan to move tar sands through Maine.