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Maine City Council vote effectively bars so-called tar sands oil

An oil worker holds raw tar sand near Fort McMurray, on July 9, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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An oil worker holds raw tar sand near Fort McMurray, on July 9, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - The South Portland City Council has voted to ban the transfer of crude oil onto ocean tankers, effectively ending any attempt to bring oil from western Canada through a pipeline into the city.

The City Council voted 6-1 Monday night in favour of the ordinance that was hailed by environmentalists.

Crude from the tar sands of western Canada is fueling the surge in North American production, but environmentalists say tar sands oil is difficult to clean if spilled and dangerous to ship.

Operators of the Portland Pipe Line say there's no current plan to reverse the flow of the pipeline to allow the crude into Maine. But environmentalist fear it could happen in the future. Opponents of the proposed restrictions say environmental concerns are overstated and the ban could cost the city jobs.

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