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South Portland rallies against toxic fumes

South Portland is the home of 120 oil storage tanks emitting toxic chemicals into the air around schools and homes, and residents want change.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — South Portland is home to 120 oil storage tanks that emit toxic chemicals into the air near houses, senior housing, and schools, like James Otis Kaler Elementary School, which sits right next to a tank farm. 

Protect South Portland and the No Toxic Tanks Coalition held a rally at the elementary school on Friday where locals heard from speakers and a New Orleans-style marching band. 

Residents of South Portland shared their concerns about the health impacts of the fumes. Currently, the testing or monitoring of emissions is not required, and people at the rally said that's not right.

"Unfortunately, we have been told that despite what our senses tell us- the intense smells of the VOCs that we all experience often- the visual of smoke from over the 100 tanks we all see and the unseen chemicals- we are told that the VOCs being emitted are safe for us and that we don't need to measure them. This is unacceptable," Maine House of Representative Victoria Morales said.

During her speech, Morales talked about her bill that would put more regulations on oil company emissions to promote clean air. 

"First, we must know if our senses are right. We must know if we have clean air or not because we don't know. To do that, we must require accurate testing of the VOCs emitted from each tank," Morales said. 

Community members, Protect South Portland, and 12 other environmental organizations and health groups are working to promote clean air. They hope to see a bill pass in the legislature once it’s finalized. 

Anyone who wants to get involved can visit the Protect South Portland website.

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