Nordic shoots itself in both feet

By Paul Bernacki | Mar 14, 2020

Nordic Aquafarms Inc.'s environmental applications ground to a halt the week of March 2.

Nordic acted under the advisement of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection/Board of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers staff and the Maine Submerged Lands leasing office staff, and the dredging proposal for the company's industrial pipeline, to be carried out by Cianbro, was never set up for a mandatory sampling and analysis plan.

At the outset of the pre-application meetings last year, these regulatory agencies, in light of the Holtrachem Mercury Dump into Penobscot Bay in the 1970s, should have required a RIM-EPA Agreement mandatory testing plan under the Clean Water Act and the Natural Resources Protection Act, as well as Maine law. The Regional Implementation Manual requires an SAP under the conditions of the previous contamination of the sediments allowed by the Maine DEP in the '70s.

Nordic has moved the environmental application’s goal posts once again, by putting on record a material change to its dredging and dredge spoils disposal proposal.

Elizabeth Ransom, agent for Nordic's applications to the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers under NRPA and the Clean Water Act, revealed for the first time the night of March 2, at the “solicitation of public comment” conducted by the Maine Department of Marine Resources in Belfast, that the NAF applications, particularly those under NRPA and the Maine Pollution Discharge Elimination System, currently before the BEP, as well as the Belfast Planning Board deliberations, and the Army Corps applications, are now incomplete for the following reasons.

At a minimum, the following elements of the project description and scope provided by NAF and its agents are inaccurate, incomplete and/or are no longer valid due to changes to the project that NAF, Cianbro and Ransom Engineering revealed March 2;

(i) The amount and location of dredging, trenching, grading, filling and blasting required;

(ii) The amount of dredge spoils to be generated by installation of the proposed intake and outfall pipes;

(iii) The method and location of dredge spoils disposal;

(iv) The area of Belfast, Northport, Searsport and Belfast Bay and Penobscot Bay that will be directly and indirectly impacted by dredge spoils disposal;

(v) The municipalities that will be adversely impacted by truck traffic from dredge spoils disposal (Searsport is now being impacted in ways not previously disclosed or noticed);

Now it is the turn of the governmental bodies and the individuals who have legal responsibility for the enforcement of our environmental laws to do the “go figure” dance and digest the problems that Nordic has brought on itself by its choice of agents and contractors.

Intervenors' current formal motions and citizen comments demanding due process to start all over again with new notices to the surrounding towns and the hundreds of impacted fisherman and residents have flooded the regulators' offices.

We all are “comfortable” with the knowledge that Nordic and its staff, vendors and agents will need as much as another year and a miracle to recover from this further gross misstep in process and planning before the agency processes can start again.

I end with a quote from Regional U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Dredge Team member Steven Wolfe, from last week:

“Hi Paul, good talking with you yesterday. My understanding is that word has gone out that the sediment along the intake/outfall corridor will need to be tested before dredging, so I will likely get pulled in to review this project at some point in the future – Steve”

Thanks, Nordic, for the $8 million spent in the local economy so far, it's been lots of fun!

This is our home. This is our only home. We are not "protestors."

Paul Bernacki is a Living Shoreline stabilization consultant. He lives in Belmont.

 

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