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South Portland council backs tar sands ban after long, emotional public meeting

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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - The South Portland City Council has approved a first reading proposal that would prohibit loading tar sands crude oil in bulk onto marine tank vessels in the city.

The council passed the ordinance 6-1 on Wednesday night.

About 500 people showed up for the meeting at the South Portland Community Center after the meeting was moved from Monday because too many people showed up at city hall.

Environmentalists say tar sands — a mixture of sand, raw petroleum and water — are difficult to clean if spilled and dangerous to ship. Opponents of the proposed restrictions say environmental concerns are overblown and it would cost the city jobs.

The proposal now does to a planning board review on July 15 and final vote July 21.

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