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Air quality monitoring to begin in South Portland next month

The city of South Portland and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will roll out short-term air quality monitoring tests to assess the condition of the air in South Portland beginning next month, city officials said Thursday.

State environmental officials pledged in April to help the city develop an air quality monitoring program to address community concerns raised by a federal lawsuit that accused Global Partners LP of violating the Clean Air Act at its petroleum storage facility on the Fore River.

Global Partners LP, a Massachusetts-based company with a 10-tank facility in South Portland, has for years exceeded its emissions cap for hazardous volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

That news led some residents to worry that industrial odors coming from the tanks and terminals are more than a nuisance and that the air might be harming them and their families.

Starting the week of June 10, the DEP will put six air quality monitoring devices at various locations in South Portland, City Manager Scott Morelli said on Thursday. The devices will sample air quality over a 24-hour period each week.

After samples are collected for several months, they will be analyzed by the DEP at its Air Lab in Augusta. Morelli said the analysis will test for more than 50 types of hazardous air pollutants, or HAPS, which are a subset of volatile organic compounds. The DEP issues licenses to businesses for how many specific HAPS and total tons of VOCs can be emitted into the air each year.

Read more: Air quality monitoring to begin in South Portland next month

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