Nordic gets win as Maine DEP finds permit applications complete

Nordic Aquafarms, the company planning to build a salmon recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Belfast, Maine, has scored a victory as the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has found its permit applications can be considered complete. 

The decision comes after opponents to the project filed multiple objections, one of which claimed that the company hadn’t proved it had sufficient title, right, or interest (TRI) to areas of land along the shoreline. Nordic plans to route in-flow and out-flow pipes into Penobscot Bay via a few parcels of land the company had secured an easement for. 

The debate over ownership rights arose when two organizations, Upstream Watch and the Maine Lobstering Union, submitted briefs claiming initial deeds from 1946 indicated the intertidal zone was never conveyed to the individuals – Richard and Janet Eckrote – Nordic had obtained an easement from for their pipelines.  

However, according to a letter from the Maine DEP, the department has determined that Nordic has proven they have sufficient ownership rights to continue the application process. 

“With respect to the intertidal portion of the property proposed for use, the department finds that the deeds and other submissions, including NAF’s option to purchase an easement over the Eckrote property and the succession of deeds in the Eckrote chain title, when considered in the context of the common law presumption of conveyance of the intertidal area along with an upland conveyance, constitute a sufficient showing of TRI [title, right, and interest] for the department to process and take action on the pending applications,” the Maine DEP wrote in a letter. 

The decision does not fully clear Nordic, as if a court determines that the company doesn’t have sufficient TRI, the decision can be revisited. 

Regardless, the decision by the department is a significant step forward for the company. 

“The efforts to achieve such comprehensive applications has been much broader in scope than any effort to date in Maine and in the North East of USA,” Nordic Aquafarms President Erik Heim said. “Nordic Aquafarms has developed the cleanest discharge solutions in the industry with proven technologies to protect the receiving waters - 99 percent of nutrients are removed and recycled from the residual discharge, with the exception of nitrogen where 85 percent is removed. Bacteria are also removed through microfiltration to protect the receiving waters. This standard enables scalability to a variety of future locations with minimal ecological impacts.”

A release from Nordic said that the company is in a position to start construction this fall, but that “the pace of the permitting process” will be the deciding factor on the start date of construction. 

Image courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms


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