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Old Court Documents Note Tar Sands Pipeline Risks

Court documents in an old tax dispute indicate that the owners of a pipeline that crosses Maine - and could be used to transport tar sands oil - is several years past its retirement date.

The National Wildlife Federation has uncovered court documents from an old tax dispute that it says show yet another reason why any plan by the Exxon-owned Portland Pipe Line Corp. to transport tar sands oil through the pipeline that runs across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont is risky. Jim Murphy is senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation's northeast regional center.

"The company itself admitted in court documents that they feel that the life of the pipeline is 60 years old," Murphy says. "The main pipeline that they've wanted to move tar sands on was built in 1950, so this means that, by their own admission, the pipeline is four years past its retirement date."

Murphy says it would be irresponsible to try to pump tar sands through an aging pipeline that crosses some of New England's most sensitive wildlife habitat. He says the group's findings also raise the urgency for a full environmental review of any such plan.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that there's a lot of risks and a lot of potential impacts," he says. "So it's very important that all of those impacts get examined before any sort of tar sands approval takes place."

A call and email to the company seeking comment was not returned by airtime.

Map of quarantine and non-quarantine counties throughout New England and New York. Data from vermont.gov.