Include all stakeholders in Nordic discussion

Castine resident and former city manager Joe Slocum calls for finding common ground with Nordic Aquafarms. I like this idea and am willing to toss out a few ideas:

Can we agree on the year? 2021. Not 1950. In 1950, we would probably be in agreement that growing salmon in a giant fish tank was a good idea. We did way too much damage with this kind of thinking. Now, in 2021, faced with global warming, wild fires, drought, storms, polluted oceans, etc., we look back at the egregious excesses of the past with regret. But, there’s great news! It’s 2021, and we can do it differently now for the generations to come, staving off water shortages and a polluted bay.

Can we agree that stakeholders in this fight lie beyond the Belfast City Council and the governor of the state of Maine? What if we extend our reach for input on this discussion into the everyday people in neighboring towns who swim in the bay, tourists who love to visit our community, maybe even consider critters who occupy the land that will be paved to make way for this giant facility. We could even think about the fish blown about by mighty machines all day long, never feeling sunlight or rain on their backs. The power of America is in our democratic form of government; power to the people says to our leaders, “Listen.”

Jennifer Hill

Waldo

First responders should get COVID shots

I serve as chief of the Brooks Fire Department, and support mandating vaccination for all fire and emergency medical service agency members, with medical exceptions for those who cannot safely be vaccinated.

Members of fire and EMS agencies in Waldo County and across the state of Maine are substantially less vaccinated than the general public, and some members prefer to quit than be vaccinated. This is cause for serious alarm. Public health experts are clear that receiving any one of the three available vaccines is far less risky than remaining unvaccinated. The Delta variant and future mutations mean that all of us, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, are nearly certain to eventually be infected with Covid-19 no matter how careful we are.  When we do get infected, vaccinations are extremely effective at preventing serious illness and death.  To keep ourselves and our communities safe, Fire and EMS members must adapt tactics and tools to fight a virus that never ceases to seek out and exploit weakness.

I recognize that a mandate is not popular, and would prefer that fire and EMS members chose to be vaccinated voluntarily in sufficient numbers — this has not occurred, and the changing reality of the pandemic now forces this mandate upon us.

If substantial numbers of fire and EMS agency members decide to leave the service rather than be vaccinated, that will be a serious hardship for agencies across the state that already struggle to find staff, and potentially tragic for members of the public who rely on us.

Scientific evidence is clear that absent vaccination, hardworking and dedicated members of our services are likely to become seriously ill and even die as the virus becomes more adept at infection. Evidence is also clear that many tragic outcomes would be avoided by vaccination.

Hans Albee

Brooks

Slocum op-ed “nonsense”

The opinion piece by former Belfast City Manager Joe Slocum (The Republican Journal, Aug. 26)  is utter nonsense. It’s analogous to a molester saying “relax and enjoy it.” The entire Nordic Aquafarms proposition is a hoodwink by foreign nationals who cannot perpetrate their greedy rape of a marine ecosystem in their home waters, so they have picked on a Maine city with a rather low education level in the city government.

The consequences of an accident in this project could well make Penobscot Bay and its adjoining estuaries a marine desert for the next century — no clams, oysters, scallops, crabs, lobsters or finfish, and that would include the natural population of salmon that are remnants of the enormous salmon population that spawned in the Penobscot and adjacent streams for millennia before they began to be decimated by mobile net gear in offshore waters.

There they spend most of their lives, consuming a range of small crustaceans collectively known as “krill.” They come into our streams to spawn, and they have been in the Passagassawakeag as recently as 1985.

William B. Leavenworth

Searsmont

Church seeks help replacing lights

When we, the Revs. Kate Winters and Joel Krueger, first came to The First Church in Belfast, UCC, in the fall of 2004, we were impressed by the picturesque and stately edifice in which the congregation gathered each Sunday. Built in 1818, it was meant to be an inspiring structure. The people of Belfast wanted their church building to be one that would attract both clergy and worshipers to their shores. It certainly did that and even to this day, the grand old First Church is seen as a landmark of our area, one of the most photographed buildings in Maine.

What surprised us as new pastors was that the beautiful steeple of the church was not lit up at night. After bringing this to the attention of the trustees and the Church Council, a test run took place in the fall of 2008. The result was that church members as well as other locals began to comment that the view of the church bell tower lit up at night was a beautiful, dignified and reassuring sight. In 2009 permanent lights were installed.

Then, last year, after signs of chipping paint, rotting wood and ornamental finials falling from the tower during storms, the church trustees decided it needed repair and the steeple lights had to be removed.

The hope is to replace the lights with a new lighting system, possibly installing colored lights. But the cost, right after the expense of restoring the tower, has been prohibitive. The suggestion was made to open up the opportunity to the public to help support this goal.

If you would like to see the lights returned to the First Church steeple, please let us know by emailing our office at office@firstchurchinbelfast.org and leaving your name and contact information. If you would like to make a donation specifically for this purpose, you may drop it off at the church or mail to 8 Court St., Belfast, ME 04915. May the light of the steeple shine bright again and may the light of love shine forth from all of us!

The Rev. Joel Krueger

The Rev. Dr. Kate Winters

Co-pastors, The First Church in Belfast, UCC

Is it better to get it wrong?

Joe Slocum’s Aug. 26 Nordic Aquafarms op-ed says the Belfast City Council has spent “hundreds and hundreds of hours with citizens.” The problem is the council hasn’t listened to them. In 2018, written comment ran 140-0 against fast-tracking a zoning change Nordic needed. This summer, public comment ran 94-14 against the city’s using eminent domain for land Nordic needs. But the City Council rammed both through anyway.

Slocum says the council “that was accused of being environmentally insensitive moved quickly to preserve public use of the Little River Trail, which could have been sold to a private buyer or developer at any time.” Slocum takes credit for preserving what was in fact sold to a developer — namely Nordic Aquafarms.

Nordic would not preserve the Little River Trail. It would put a 56-acre factory right next to the trail.

Slocum says licensing agencies have determined Nordic is “adequately financed.” But licensing agencies have ignored Nordic’s finances. Nordic told the DEP it had only $8 million on hand. For a $500 million project? And another in California? Sounds solid to me.

Slocum says, “governing and permitting agencies will continue to monitor, test and review Nordic’s project for decades.” Yes, for two or three decades. Then Nordic will walk away, leaving 56 acres scarred by a factory bigger than Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium combined.

Slocum says, “If future activity causes harm, these agencies retain their authority to direct changes.” Nonsense. In 2019, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection fined chronic offender Cooke Aquaculture $156,000 — against revenues of $232,000,000. That’s chump change.

Slocum says Nordic’s mudflat “would look the same after construction as it would before construction.” True, the settled industrial mercury disturbed and dispersed by Nordic’s construction would be invisible — and extremely toxic.

Slocum fails to mention the Deloitte report. In 2018, Slocum hired consulting firm Deloitte to report on Nordic’s finances and environmental sustainability. The report was a sham.

Deloitte had twice worked for Nordic. Slocum said he alone found Deloitte, but Nordic CEO Erik Heim told me he gave Slocum a list of consulting firms, including Deloitte. Six months into a $500 million Nordic project, Slocum didn’t even know how to call Norway — who do you believe?

The only environmentalist Deloitte consulted worked for the town of Thisted, Denmark, near Nordic’s Danish plant, a plant less than 2% the size of Nordic’s proposed Belfast plant — and it’s located in an industrial area. No 56 acres of mature forest, wetlands and wildlife habitat destroyed. No 45,000 truckloads of topsoil removed and trucked off.

Slocum’s dismissal of court involvement in the Nordic controversy mirrors the city’s ignoring Maine courts and simply grabbing land and giving it to Nordic. Slocum says court appeals can take years. Is it better to get it wrong?

Courts protect us all from polluters and improper use of eminent domain. I regret that Mr. Slocum finds our courts so inconvenient.

Lawrence Reichard

Belfast

filed under: