Xcelerate Aqua making new salmon RAS foray in Millinocket, Maine

A rendering of the proposed recirculating aquaculture system facility for Millinocket, Maine.

The town of Millinocket, located in Maine, U.S.A., is getting its wish to become a part of the growing land-based aquaculture boom in the state.

Xcelerate Aqua, the company founded by former Nordic Aquafarms President and Co-Founder Erik Heim and former Nordic Aquafarms Executive Vice President Marianne Naess, has announced plans for a new salmon recirculating aquaculture system in Millinocket, on the site of the former Great Northern Paper Co. mill. Naess told SeafoodSource that the first phase of the project, dubbed Katahdin Salmon, will have a capacity of 5,000 metric tons (MT) of Atlantic salmon a year, with a future phase 2 adding on an additional 5,000 MT of capacity.

The site will include feed storage, a hatchery, growout facilities, and the supporting infrastructure for those operations including processing, oxygen storage, back-up power, and a digester for bio waste. 

Naess – who is the co-founder and CEO of Katahdin Salmon – said the initial project costs are estimated between USD 120 million and USD 140 million (EUR 112 million and EUR 131 million), but she also added that the company is “being careful” with final estimates, recognizing that construction costs over the past few years have fluctuated.

The official site of the new facility will be the former settling lagoons at the paper mill, once used for wastewater treatment. The site is an EPA brownfield location with access to 100 percent renewable energy in the form of local hydropower, and at 1,400 acres total the mill site has enough room to recycle all the company’s waste products on site.

Shane Flynn, who works in tenant recruitment for One North – the team working to recruit businesses to the former paper mill site – said the site selection came about after One North took Heim and Naess on a tour of some of the available facilities. Flynn said he was familiar with their work on Nordic Aquafarms, and some of the challenges that that project faced, and had encouraged them to take a look at Millinocket.

“I have known Marianne and Erik for several years, and I’ve watched carefully how they have progressed during that process, and seeing some of the challenges that have cropped up,” Flynn told SeafoodSource. “I said, quite a number of times, ‘you know, you need to come up and look at what we’ve got in Millinocket.’”

Heim and Naess finally took Flynn up on his offer of a tour in July, and realized the opportunity available in the settling lagoons.

“We went through the site – you know it’s a big site, there’s 1,400 acres so there’s a lot on it – but we looked at what we thought were likely locations if there were to be any business,” Flynn said. “Then as a kind of default, we went by our lagoon area, where the settling lagoons were for the wastewater treatment. And it was at that point that that which was seen as a challenging location within the site, Marianne and Erik saw as a great opportunity.”

The lagoon, according to Naess, offers …

Photo courtesy of Katahdin Salmon

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