January 22, 2019
January 22, 2019
Our opponents continue to spread misinformation about our project at meetings. Here are the facts to counter their misleading statements.
Experts such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) view what we are proposing as one of the most sustainable ways of producing fish to provide healthy protein to a growing population.
The changes made by the City of Belfast to accommodate our facility – aquaculture was already allowed one part of our property but not another – followed the same process the city has used for the last ten years to make such changes. The city also recently went through the zone change process a second time to ensure that it was done properly.
Our discharge application sets a new standard for the fish farming industry and is supported by leading environmental organizations such as the Conservation Law Foundation, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute – none of whom would support our application if they felt we were harming Maine waters.
There are municipal waste treatment plants and industrial facilities in Maine that discharge many times the treated wastewater that we are proposing, and all are regulated just as we will be. Moreover, the volume of waste water discharged is not as important as the content of the discharge.
Using the latest and best technology, we will treat all water coming in and out of our facility for bacteria and pathogens and will recycle nutrients – fish feed particles and feces – from our production water (they have value as a by-product). The allowable discharge from local sewage treatment plants is 30 milligrams per liter of total suspended solids and 30 milligrams per liter of biological oxygen demand — a measure of general pollutant load. Nordic Aquafarms’ discharge will be 6.3 milligrams per liter and 5.5 milligrams per liter, respectively — about one-sixth the amount other permits allow.
In terms of Phosphorus and Nitrogen, which in heavy concentrations have the potential to harm water quality and promote algae blooms, our wastewater treatment will remove 99% of and 85% these nutrients, respectively. Through dilution and the natural mixing of ocean currents, both will quickly reach existing background levels in the bay within a few meters of our discharge pipe.
We have not decided on our fish feed yet, because the feed industry is changing rapidly, and we don’t need to make our feed decision for another two years. Fish meal in aquaculture already has been reduced from more than 40% of fish feed to less than 10% on average, and there are many alternative protein sources being developed in this rapidly evolving industry. We have initiated a project called Fish Feed 2020 to develop the best solutions for feed going forward.
We have hired five people so far, for both our Belfast office and our U.S. corporate headquarters in Portland. Four of the five are from Maine and three, all of whom have special skills we need right now, are based in Belfast.
We are projecting 60 employees during phase one of the project and 100 or more when the project is fully built. Our jobs will encompass many skill levels, and we will be providing training for many positions. We expect that many, if not most, of our hires will be from the local area.
We have not asked for any special treatment but will certainly take advantage of programs that are available to any company investing in Maine. Such programs will not influence the local tax base. We are on track to become the largest single taxpayer in Belfast, so any reduction in state aid will be more than offset by the new tax dollars we will pay.
The dollars our investment of up to $500 million will generate will have a significant multiplier effect in Belfast and throughout Maine, and we will pay the same amount of taxes as any U.S. company, because Nordic Aquafarms Inc., is, in fact, a U.S. company.
The U.S. today imports 90% of its fresh seafood. Producing salmon locally, as we are planning to do, will reduce the trade deficit, reduce the carbon footprint, provide local jobs and taxes, and enhance Maine’s already great reputation as a source of high-quality seafood.
Trees will be cleared from only about half of our 54-acre site. This land has been logged in the past. Since announcing our project a year ago, we have acquired additional land to increase the buffer zone between our facility and nearby woods and trails along the Little River.
While Mercury contamination in the Penobscot River is well documented, our own studies and samplings within the past year have confirmed that there is no evidence of Mercury contamination in the area where our intake and discharge pipes will be located and construction of our pipelines poses no harm to the lobster fishery.
While we originally estimated that out intake and discharge pipes would stretch about a mile offshore, subsequent studies and analysis have shown that the most optimum location is about one kilometer (.62 miles) offshore. There is no environmental benefit to going out any further. In addition, have adjusted the path of our pipes so that they adhere to the property rights in the easement we have negotiated for the pipelines.