Letter: Concerned about the tar sands scenario

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By now most of us have heard something about tar sands oil. This oil is composed mostly of clay and sand and, unlike the crude oil we use for heating, needs to be mixed with chemicals and enormous amounts of water so that it can be pumped through pipelines. In that state, it has been compared to hot liquid sandpaper.

The problem for us is that our pipelines are over 60 years old and are used to taking crude oil from the port of South Portland up to Montreal. Now the process will be reversed and the tar sands oil will come down from Canada and be exported to China and other destinations.

As the pipeline goes through Maine, it crosses the Crooked River six times and follows the Androscoggin and Presumpscot rivers. Most significantly, it passes by Sebago Lake, which is the source of our drinking water. Should there be a break in this pipeline anywhere along its path the results could be dire, for, unlike crude oil, which floats, this oil sinks to the bottom, where it remains to kill fish and plants and pollute the water supply.

Two 70-foot towers will be built at the terminal in South Portland to burn off the toxins, and huge tankers unlike any we have seen here before will need to come into our waters to transport it.

Jean Sheridan