Board sinks Belfast appeal of Bucksport salmon farm

By Ethan Andrews | Feb 07, 2019

Bucksport — An appeal by a Belfast resident seeking tighter water pollution controls for the Whole Oceans salmon farm in Bucksport has lapsed, but the appellant says her concerns remain and could be addressed in later stages of review.

In her Dec. 17 appeal to state Board of Environmental Protection Chairman James Parker, Holly Faubel voiced general support for the salmon farm, but raised concerns about how it could affect the Penobscot River, which would provide water to the facility.

Whole Oceans anticipates circulating 4.65 million gallons of river water through the facility per day in its first phase, and up to 18.6 million gallons at full capacity. DEP approved Whole Oceans' Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and Wastewater Discharge License on Nov. 21, 2018.

Faubel asked that Whole Oceans additionally be required to filter the water to remove mercury before it enters the facility. The Penobscot River is a known site of mercury pollution from the former HoltraChem plant in Orrington.

She argued in her appeal that exposure to bacteria in the fish tanks could make the mercury more toxic and persistent. Faubel also asked that monitoring of ammonia discharged in the facility's wastewater be conducted in winter, when she said it is more toxic to fish and shellfish. Under the current plan, monitoring would be done in the summer.

Whole Oceans, through its attorney, argued that Faubel's appeal should be dismissed on grounds that she lives too far away to be affected directly by operations of the proposed facility.

Faubel confirmed by email that her appeal had lapsed but said her concerns could see the light of day as other agencies are involved in later stages of the review process.

"The focus is not whether it should happen, but how it happens from an environmental standpoint," she said. "A project that yields a reasonable profit, helps restore the brownfield, and brings more good paying jobs to the area is a great idea."

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.