Nordic Aquafarms close to clearing final permitting hurdle for building Maine-based salmon RAS

Published on
May 21, 2020

Nordic Aquafarms’ Belfast, Maine, U.S.A.-based salmon recirculating aquaculture system plans have moved past a major point in the progress, as the state’s Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) recently met to deliberate four major permits required for the project.

The BEP deliberated four separate permits for the site: A discharge permit, a site law permit, a natural resources permit, and an air emissions permit. All those permits are necessary for Nordic’s planned 850,000 gross square-foot, USD 500 million (EUR 456 million) facility.

The company said it was “very pleased” with the deliberations, and that staff of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection “presented the different issues well.” Nordic also commended the board for finishing the session in just one day, despite the challenges posed by measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It has been a long journey and I want to thank our employees, the DEP staff, and our advisors for their efforts in the permitting process,” Nordic Aquafarms President Erik Heim said in a release “We also want to thank the BEP for its thorough processing of the applications based on facts and science. 

The hearing represents nearly two-years of work on the permitting process, which has been marked by interruptions stemming from local opposition to the project. The initial permit application was delayed after opponents filed multiple objections, and the permit was found to be complete in June 2019.  

The project has also been the subject of lawsuits, with some lawsuits against the city of Belfast relating to the project.

“A few local opponent groups have tried to derail the process with claims of the applications being incomplete, by arguing the need for additional studies well beyond the required regulations and by frivolous lawsuits claiming that Nordic doesn´t have a lawful access to the bay for its intake and discharge pipes,” the company said. “Their attempts to derail the BEP process have been unsuccessful.”

Despite the opposition, the company said most residents in the area are in favor of the project.

“The majority of the residents of Belfast, as well as all the elected officials, have supported the project all along,” the company stated. “Local supporters have formed support groups and gone to great lengths to provide accurate information based on science and facts to the community. Nordic Aquafarms wants to thank its supporters and the group ‘The Fish Are Okay’ in particular for their support.”

The company added that the current COVID-19 crisis highlights the need for local food supplies like the planned salmon facility.

“The current situation with COVID-19 and disruptions in international supply chains shows the importance of producing high quality food close to the consumers and underscores the importance of this project both to Maine and the U.S.,” Heim said.

Nordic Aquafarms is now “looking forward to the draft permits being issued and for other permits to come to a conclusion in the near future," it said. 

Image courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms

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