Upstream Watch, a local environmental advocacy group currently challenging plans for a proposed land-based salmon farm along the Little River, has suggested an alternative solution — but Nordic Aquafarms says it will not work.

According to an Upstream Watch press release issued Nov. 8, consultant David Losee said during a public meeting the night before, “Move the project to suitable land adjacent to Belfast Airport Business Park and use true zero discharge technology, and Upstream will withdraw its opposition.”

Alluding to court challenges lodged against the proposed salmon farm and its plans for discharge pipes into Penobscot Bay, Losee asked, “Do we want a decision on a $500 million project made by a judge or a hearing officer from some other part of the state, or do we want to work this out by compromise among fair-minded local people?”

In its Nov. 8 news release, Upstream Watch said that, despite inclement weather, more than 70 people attended the informational meeting Thursday evening at United Farmers Market, 18 Spring St.

Upstream Watch founder and President Amy Grant said, “Moving this facility to a more suitable site could be a win/win for everyone and we hope that Nordic takes our proposal seriously. The site that is currently proposed by Nordic is completely unsuitable for numerous reasons, including unstable clay soil and a failing dam immediately upstream, not to mention that Nordic still has no path to the bay.”

Other speakers at the meeting included John Krueger, retired DEP division director and scientist, who expressed concern that Nordic was not offering Belfast the best available technology, which includes Zero Wastewater Discharge.

Krueger highlighted such zero discharge salmon production facilities as Aquamaof Aquaculture, Sustainable Blue and Superior Fresh, saying, “These companies are offering best available technology at their facilities; why shouldn't Belfast expect the same?”

Zero discharge technology would alleviate the need for wastewater discharge pipes into Penobscot Bay, according to the press release. “Nordic needs to choose the responsible path forward,” Grant said.

Nordic issued a statement Monday night saying that Upstream’s alternative site would not be suitable for its operation; nor would zero discharge technology be suitable for an operation of its proposed size. The statement said Nordic searched up and down the East Coast for a site to meet its criteria and the site in Belfast was the only one that addressed all needs.

Nordic said the company is using the best technology for an operation of its size, and that technology recycles 99% of water, removes 85% of nitrogen and removes 99% of material from its discharge. The company reiterated that it values open dialogue with the community.

“Nordic Aquafarms values dialog with local residents and groups to ensure that we find solutions that work for Belfast and its residents,” Jacki Cassida, Nordic community liaison, said in an email to The Republican Journal.

Grant could not immediately be reached for a response to Nordic's statement.

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