SOUTH PORTLAND — Global Partners will install $400,000 in odor-control equipment on petroleum storage tanks at its Fore River terminal, responding to neighborhood complaints and going beyond requirements of a proposed federal consent decree targeting air pollution.

Eric Slifka, CEO of Global Partners, said Wednesday during a visit to South Portland, “Our goal is to be a good neighbor.” He said the company is going beyond the requirements of a proposed federal consent decree targeting air pollution. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Massachusetts-based company also will contribute $15,000 to cover the cost of South Portland’s fledgling air quality monitoring program. And it has created a website,, where residents can report odor complaints directly to Global and read annual emissions data filed with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Global also will reduce its handling of asphalt and No. 6 residual heavy fuel oil stored in heated tanks and take other steps required in a proposed settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that addresses alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

“Our goal is to be a good neighbor,” Global CEO Eric Slifka said Wednesday during a visit to South Portland. “It’s the right thing to do and we’re going to go further than we’re required.”

Terms of the proposed consent decree haven’t been finalized, but news of Global’s plan to do more than initially required pleased Mayor Claude Morgan.

“Global has listened to the residents,” Morgan said. “We’ve been meeting with Global folks and we’ve been telling them, ‘Forget about the consent decree and focus on what you’ve heard.’ There’s been a sea change and they’re responding to it.”


Morgan said the EPA’s action has awakened residents to harmful emissions that have been generated for decades by multiple sources across the city. They include about 100 other fuel storage tanks at terminals operated by companies such as Irving, Citgo, Gulf and Sprague, which is in a similar battle with the EPA over heated tanks of asphalt and No. 6 heavy oil.

The City Council responded to the public outcry by launching a citywide air quality monitoring program overseen by the DEP, and on Tuesday it voted to establish a five-member Clean Air Advisory Committee to address air pollution issues more broadly.

Under the proposed consent decree, Global must install a petroleum mist eliminator system to control emissions and odors from four heated tanks at the company’s terminal off Lincoln Street. That equipment will cost about $230,000.

Now, Slifka said, Global will add a dry active scrubber to the system in an attempt to remove any foul odors from tank emissions that have upset residents in the Pleasantdale neighborhood and beyond. That equipment will cost about $170,000.

“Will they be odor-free? I doubt it,” Morgan said. “But they certainly are taking big remedial steps that have the potential to make them a leader in the petroleum industry and beyond.”

The EPA filed a lawsuit and proposed consent decree in March charging Global with violating its emissions license issued by the DEP under the Clean Air Act. South Portland officials and residents were surprised and angered that neither agency notified the city about alleged air quality violations that had been going on for several years.


In the lawsuit, the EPA challenged Global’s air quality license issued by the DEP that allows the 12-tank terminal to emit 21.9 tons of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the air each year. The federal agency required unprecedented testing in 2012 and 2013 that showed the facility had the potential to emit more than 50 tons of VOCs annually.

Global disputes the EPA’s charges and DEP officials disagreed with the federal agency’s use of a new method to assess tank emissions. And both agencies warn that foul odors aren’t necessarily a health hazard.

VOCs include a variety of chemicals that can produce adverse health effects such as eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system, the EPA said.

VOCs also contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly and anyone with lung diseases such as asthma. Ground-level ozone also can harm sensitive vegetation and ecosystems.

Under the proposed settlement with the EPA, Global would pay a $40,000 fine and invest at least $150,000 in a program to upgrade or replace wood stoves in Cumberland County. Global also must apply for a revised license from the DEP and take steps to reduce VOC emissions at the facility.

The revised license would allow the terminal to handle 75 million gallons of asphalt and 50 million gallons of No. 6 heavy oil on a rolling 12-month basis, according to the consent decree.


The consent decree also would require Global to install a petroleum mist eliminator system and implement a program of at least 120 “non-heating days,” when one of the tanks isn’t heated for 24 hours. The tanks are heated to keep the petroleum products liquid.

Morgan said city officials plan to meet with Global representatives this month. He’s asked them to provide a commitment letter detailing everything the company has promised to do and when it will be done.

Morgan believes Global’s efforts add up to more than a public relations campaign, and he’s hoping other petroleum terminals in the city follow Global’s example.

“You can either get in front of this and respond or you can wait for the lawsuits to roll in,” Morgan said. “We hope other visionary industry leaders will step forward and ask, ‘What can we do?’ ”

Slifka, Global’s CEO, said the odor control equipment will be delivered by November and installed soon after. He said Global will work with the city’s Clean Air Advisory Committee and he will encourage other petroleum terminal operators to do the same.

Because like a watershed, the city has an “air shed,” with many other companies and nonbusiness sources contributing potentially hazardous emissions, he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s got to be a broader approach,” Slifka said.

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