“Save Our Shores” was a citizens group organized in 1973 to combat the proposal by Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis and others for a massive oil refinery to be built on Great Bay just outside of Durham, N.H. Olympic Oil Refinery’s plan was to build the refinery at Durham Point, supply it with the necessary freshwater from Lake Winnipesaukee and pump oil back and forth to the terminal at the Isles of Shoals via a pipeline through Great Bay, Newington, Portsmouth and Rye. The pipeline’s final leg would have crossed the ocean floor from Rye to a supertanker terminal at the Shoals. Had Olympic Oil been successful, the 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery would have been the largest built from scratch in the United States at the time. It would also have changed Great Bay and Durham Point, areas of outstanding natural beauty, forever.
Save Our Shores included former state legislators Dudley Dudley and Patti Blanchette; Jack Kingsbury, founder of the Shoals Marine Laboratory; Nancy Sandberg, one of the first leaders of the citizens group; and Phyllis Bennett, who was a founder of Publick Occurrences, the newspaper that broke the story of the proposed refinery after many Durham Point landowners were approached to sell their land. Olympic, through a realtor, had successfully optioned more than 1,000 acres from 11 property owners. The realtor told some property owners he wanted land for a game preserve, to others it was for investment, to others it was to build a home and still others he told he was representing someone else.
The fight against the refinery began in the fall of 1973 and it concluded in March 1974. However, plans for a refinery in the Seacoast continued as other towns such as Newmarket, Rochester and Raymond considered the project.
Dudley Dudley played an integral part in the fight as a freshman legislator. She sponsored House Bill 15 that reaffirmed towns’ home-rule rights in decisions on large projects such as the oil refinery. The Legislature approved her bill the day after Rye and Durham residents overwhelmingly voted against zoning amendments needed for the oil refinery plan. In Rye, the vote was 1,073-to-194. In Durham, it was 1,254-to-144.
Source: Some of this information was taken from an article written by Richard Fabrizio for the Portsmouth Herald, August 5, 2001.
The collection materials were donated by Gael Ulrich, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of New Hampshire, Nancy Sandberg, chair of Save Our Shores, who at the time was a 27-year-old mother who “grew vegetables and planted apple trees at her family’s home when she was called to action,” and Robert and Gail Bates, residents of Exeter, N.H. The papers are primarily newsclippings, but there is also correspondence, newsletters, flyers, and a small number of slides.