Nordic Aquafarms expects California RAS site preparation will cost USD 100 million

Published on
July 27, 2021

Nordic Aquafarms executives said they plan to spend an estimated USD 100 million (EUR 84.4 million) on site preparation at the planned location of a recirculating aquaculture system in Humboldt County, California, Lost Coast Outpost reported.

The information was divulged during a tour of the proposed site, which is located on the Samoa Peninsula on the former site of the Evergreen Pulp Mill, near the town of Eureka. The defunct mill, Nordic Aquafarms Executive Vice President of Operations Marianne Naess told SeafoodSource in 2019 when the project was announced, had received some clean-up efforts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but much of the facility remains in need of refurbishment.

Naess told SeafoodSource the project will require hazardous material clean-up, new stormwater management systems, earthquake mitigation, and the demolition of the existing facilities.

“Site-specific and environmental costs will be about USD 100 million,” she said.

Much of the former paper mill at the planned location for the new RAS facility remains in place, Naess said. It needs to be demolished and the site will require clean-up before construction on the farm can begin. Naess said the figure for that stage of the project is “around USD 10 million [EUR 8.4 million],” but that an exact figure won’t be known until further into the process.

Naess said the company has also agreed to independent monitoring of effluent discharged from outflow pipes on the site, Lost Coast Outpost reported.

Naess told SeafoodSource the current stormwater mitigation systems are doing little to stop polluted runoff from entering the ocean.

“Today, they have a defunct stormwater system, so all the toxins run right into the bay,” she said.

Naess said the company's planned spending includes infrastructural improvements that will also be completed at the company’s proposed RAS site in Belfast, Maine.

“It’s the same in Maine, we have other ancillary improvements,” Naess said.   

Humboldt Baykeeper, a branch of a local nonprofit dedicated to protecting habitats in the region, said on its Facebook page that the project will be a boon for rehabilitating the site of the former paper mill.

“Their proposal has changed considerably since we first met with them in early 2019 – mostly for the better – and it remains to be seen whether it can be done in a way that is protective of Humboldt Bay and the ocean ecosystem,” the nonprofit said. “But if it can, it would be a major improvement to clean up the remaining mess left by Evergreen Pulp in 2008, remove contaminated soil, and build a modern stormwater system. As it stands today, every major rainstorm carries polluted runoff into the bay. And the way our legal system works, it will stay that way until someone invests in the clean-up.”

Nordic Aquafarms announced its plans for a facility on the U.S. West Coast in 2019, estimating at the time the company would put USD 400 million (EUR 337 million) in total into the project.

Photo courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms Inc. 

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