Nordic is responsible for its own problems

By Lawrence Reichard | Apr 25, 2020

In her April 16 Republican Journal op-ed, Jacki Cassida touts Nordic Aquafarms' alleged progress, but in 2 1/2 years in Belfast, Nordic hasn't secured a single permit for its proposed industrial fish factory. The op-ed says “folks had been encouraged by an intervenor to inundate” the state Board of Environmental Protection with letters. Cassida was referring to me.

Yes, I encouraged — and I still encourage — all concerned Belfast and Northport residents to write BEP about Nordic Aquafarms' remarkably insensitive and tone-deaf March 10 request that BEP rush judgment on Nordic's fish factory. Oblivious to the pandemic that has infected more than 2 million people and taken more than 130,000 lives, Nordic made its request fully 40 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health emergency.

Nordic's request smacked of what author Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism,” in which large multinational corporations exploit disasters like COVID-19 to ram through extractive and highly polluting industrial projects like Nordic's fish factory.

Cassida says “BEP reminded intervenors to remain respectful and professional in tone,” but the real obscenity here is a big foreign corporation trying to pressure the state — our state — in the midst of a global pandemic.

The op-ed says: “A recently floated opinion was that our applications are incomplete.” But this is not an opinion — it is fact. Nordic has repeatedly made substantive changes to its plans while the BEP has refused to order legally required studies on how Nordic's latest plan would, among other things, harm fisheries and lobstering through a wide swath of Penobscot Bay from Northport to Searsport.

No study has examined Nordic's latest plan to disrupt mercury-laced Belfast Bay sediment and haul away no less than 110 to 130 barges of that sediment, disbursing it all the way from Northport to Searsport, only to then have the remaining toxic sediment trucked off and dumped in landfills as far away as New Hampshire. As of very recently, Searsport hadn't even been notified that thousands of cubic yards of mercury-laced sediment would be hauled through its town.

The op-ed says letters from Nordic opponents “argued that our applications should be dismissed.” This is misleading. Nordic opponents are asking BEP to order legally required environmental impact studies, not on Nordic's long-ago plans, but on its latest in a long series of moving-target plans. Opponents also urge the BEP to follow Maine law and establish — prior to consideration of Nordic's application — Nordic's highly questionable Title, right and interest to the intertidal area the company wants to cross with its effluent discharge pipe.

Cassida says: “Nordic Aquafarms has been patiently moving through this process...” But if Nordic Aquafarms is so patient, why did it ask BEP to rush its process, especially in the midst of a global pandemic? Nordic, not BEP, is responsible for Nordic's woeful progress.

Winding down, the op-ed finally says something accurate: “This community is worth its weight in gold.” Yes, this community — our community — is indeed worth its weight in gold, and that is precisely why this community will continue to fight Nordic's ever-shifting plan to spew 1,600 pounds of nitrogen and 100 pounds of phosphorous into our bay every day, to annually use at least 630 million gallons of our fresh water, and to destroy a popular hiking trail, mature forest, wetlands and the habitat of at least one threatened species.

We are all understandably concerned and upset by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will not get though this and into a better world by ignoring large multinational corporations' attempts to pressure our state government into cutting corners on protecting our environment.

Lawrence Reichard is a freelance writer who lives in Belfast.

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Comments (12)
Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Apr 29, 2020 16:49

Looks like another salmon kill off due to a monoculture failure in Stephenville Newfoundland. 6 fish were found to have ISA at the Northern Harvest facility, which then led to a decision to cull 450,000 young salmon. Northern Harvest is the owner of Ducktrap Seafood in Belfast.

Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Apr 28, 2020 12:15

You don't like anti-vax? Here's an article you need to understand. Because it's SCIENCE. Michael Moore and Al Gore movies are NOT SCIENCE.


I would suggest you learn how hot composting with live bacteria works. Their fresh water needs are far below the gallons used 50 yrs ago when we had a blue collar economy. And a few gallons of warmish water are hardly comparable as a problem to the virtual "bay of chum" Belfast Harbor used to be in the sardine and chicken processing days.

And wanting good paying, safe, steady jobs for the second poorest county in Maine is GREEDY?  You've got problems. And I'll bet you don't EMPLOY ANYONE in our area. I'll bet you hate kids, too. There's some ad hominem for you. Just so you feel at home in your own puddle of goo.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Apr 28, 2020 11:11

The Belfast City Council may want the BEP to act swiftly to conclude permit deliberations on the Nordic Aquafarms application, but this article omits all of the reasons that the process has been dragging on for a year and a half. To begin with, Nordic has never shown sufficient Title, Right , and Interest in the intertidal land over which it would like to place its pipes, and in fact there are Slander of Title actions pending in both the State and Federal Courts. Add to that Nordic's revelation at the March Division of Marine Resources Public Meeting that it plans on blasting, dredging, hauling, and dewatering hundreds of bargeloads of potentially mercury-contaminated ocean bottom, without ever obtaining a dredge permit or doing adequate mercury testing along the proposed pipe route. Add to that new plans brought forward at the time of the BEP Hearings that triggered air quality emissions concerns and the requirement for additional evidence; the necessity to excavate and remove millions of cubic yards of unsuitable soil from the 44 acre building site up to a depth of 20 feet ; the insufficiency of well water on the site requiring the use of ground water and additional water from the City's public drinking supply; the revelations of the warmer temperature, lower salinity, and slow dispersal of the 7.7 million gallons/day discharge plume into Penobscot Bay. The list is too long to relay it all.
Our thanks to the BEP for taking the time necessary to thoroughly examine the legitimate scientific and environmental concerns that have arisen over the time period that this permit has been studied. These are indeed catastrophic times, but it is shortsighted to fall prey to disaster capitalism.

Posted by: Seth Thayer | Apr 28, 2020 08:01

A public forum is just that Ralph, public. Simply because you don't want industry in your backyard, doesn't mean that other people cannot comment on things in a public forum. perhaps you should go back to doing what you do best, breaking into summer houses and stealing stuff.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Apr 27, 2020 19:53

Shut the F up Seth Thayer, Keyes and NAF's chief propagandist Jacki (with an I) Cassida. Spewing misinformation and accusing others of the same is cringe worthy. The Bay is working its way back. To think you can take advantage of nearly 40 years of reversing environmentally disgraceful activities to spew on about jobs, mercury is good for you and let's knit some fish and spew some more into the bay is tiresome, arrogant and greedy.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Apr 27, 2020 19:37


You pretty much nailed with regards to Keyes. I've read and and responded to her raving insanity and science denying woo woo several times with facts, science and reality, crickets.
She is a rabid anti-vaxer, conspiracy theorist and has zero understanding or comprehension of virology and immunology yet bloviates on both with stunning regularly. There are many other conspiracies she goes on about but you get the idea.  
I've come to the conclusion she is a hit and run poster that come in, drops a anti-vax or conspiracy bomb and never comes back.

At this point for me best not to engage because it is a waist of electrons to put the text on the screen.
Or in other words, best not to engage the ignorant because they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience ;)

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Apr 27, 2020 19:10

This Keyes woman is a piece of work. No idea what she even comes close to knowing about a heavy metal such as mercury. One serious BS artist. The Bay has been on the positive side of things from the mid 70s. Intrusion of spoils into the Bay have been reduced significantly. The heavier metals like mercury lay on the bottom and eventually become part of the lower sediments. PSB's were proven to be equally as challenging to reduce their intrusion into the food chain. No one in their right mind would consider introducing any of these chemical byproducts of a long passed and disgraced industry into our present environment. This person is in need of some basic education. Shameful BS.




Posted by: Jacki Cassida | Apr 27, 2020 14:31

For folks who would like quick access to the column Mr. Reichard is referring to:

~Jacki Cassida, NAF

Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Apr 27, 2020 10:56

Dredging the bay and removing mercury waste is a GOOD THING. In fact, it is a GREAT thing! Mercury exposed to air evaporates, and life in the ecosystem that needs it can then absorb it in it's smallest bites. Ground bacteria are very useful for changing toxic heavy metals into useful trace elements for lower life forms thus returning those elements to the food chain. Everything has to eat something. There's a lot of eating going on that we don't notice, but it's vital for every other creature in the food chain. The sea bottom is outstanding "manure" to restore trace elements and plant food to the land. Victor Hugo lamented in his book, Les Miserables that the French washed their waste down drains and out to sea, even in the early 1800's, while their farmland was stripped of the manure and humus that was needed to feed plants, rendering the food grown there tasteless. Nobody wants to have to do such a large task, but in this case, only business with the savings to afford it can achieve such a herculean and excellent task. Let them to it.

In fact, when the Army Core of Engineers were trying to deepen the Searsport/Penobscot areas of the bay/river in 2014, the greatest demand of environmentalists locally was to truck the waste to landfills, rather than endanger the fishing community's clean water. The ACE wanted to dump the waste material in pock marks on the sea floor between Belfast Bay and Islesboro. That would have been bad. The currents would have washed the material into the seafood being harvested, and the pockmarks are active methane pockets, bubbling on the seafloor that would have also blown the waste up into the currents to redistrubute the debris right back where it was dug from.

The sea bottom isn't static. If you dredge the bottom, the sand and rocks around the hole will gradually cave into the new holes. The rivers will continue to move tons of sediment into the bay from inland. You can't stop nature.

Dredging is a regular activity. Every 15 yrs or so, it has to be done to allow bigger ships to deliver goods and oil to our area. The ecosystem is circular. It's breathing. What was this will be that. Everything dies and becomes the life-giving food for what comes after. Nothing is permanent, as much as you'd like it to be. Nature takes care of itself to a very large degree. Any little puttering in the sandbox by us will be irrelevant in a hundred years if left for nature to take back. In the meantime, Nordic is going to provide jobs needed in our area, meet a desperate need for seafood since Fukushima is still irradiating the Pacific, with no human risk (commercial fishing is the most dangerous job in the world), and seems to have planned for the use of every part of the fish and the fish waste to be used responsibly and profitably. This will allow more people in our community to get a job that lifts them out of poverty.

Posted by: Patricia Edith Kaplan | Apr 26, 2020 08:53

Thank you Lawrence for your letter of compassion for beautiful midcoast Maine.  I would all of us to slow down, feel the suffering of nature, recognize the dire times we now live in?  Can we understand a virus traveled around the world, because it could and found its way here and now.  Could we,  just for a moment, consider our precious earth, how it struggles to live, to rebuild itself, to give us all we need to survive?  Can we let the earth breathe for a minute?  How about  a moratorium of projects of corporate greed?  Might we slow the heck down the "more is better" theory?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We are certainly doomed not only here in Maine.  Will the US beat out the Roman Empire as the greediest country ever created?  Unless and until we recognize $$$ before life is not life-sustaining we will not survive.  Please take a moment and read, The Hour of Land,

Perhaps it is time to recognize the real war is within us.  There is no external fix of greed to remedy the epidemic of spiritual bankruptcy alive and growing in our culture.  We  must assume our role as stewards of the earth, honoring and caring for nature if we are to survive as a species.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Apr 26, 2020 06:49

Stick to knitting fish unless you care to elaborate on what you consider misinformation. NAF is faced with a number of permitting issues that it has not even begun to address, legal problems notwithstanding. Never Biden.

Posted by: Seth Thayer | Apr 26, 2020 06:06

This column is so full of misinformation it's insane. Who would believe a disgraced infotainment writer anyway?  The author is known to be full of bluster when it comes to his writing and is a bit, shall we say, lax with the facts.  Belfast welcomes Nordic and cannot wait until they start up their fish farm.

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