Upstream Watch offers Nordic alternative plan

Will withdraw opposition if Nordic will move project, update technology
Nov 10, 2019
Courtesy of: Upstream Watch Little River at low tide.

Belfast — 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.

According to an Upstream Watch press release issued Friday night, consultant David Losee said during a public meeting Thursday, “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, Nov. 7, 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 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.

Susie O’Keeffe, who holds a master’s degree with distinction in environmental management from Oxford University in England and is a research associate with the College of the Atlantic, reiterated her previous call for further study of the proposed Little River site. O’Keeffe noted that no macroinvertebrate studies were conducted, as is required; nor was a project-specific avian survey done.

“From what we know from the literature, 14 Species of Concern of bats and birds are likely to exist on the site, and seven Species of Greatest Conservation Need are likely to exist,” she said. “Knowing this, a full, four-season assessment should be taking place.” She also said, “No onsite studies of plant life were conducted.”

Upstream Watch is a citizen action organization that advocates for the health of Midcoast Maine rivers and watersheds through science and education. Headquartered in Belfast and founded in 2018, Upstream Watch monitors activities affecting Midcoast Maine’s watersheds, and shares its findings with the public and regulatory agencies in a long-term effort to ensure the integrity, productivity and sustainability of the Gulf of Maine and its watersheds.

A video replay of the meeting is available at https://vimeo.com/371924267. For more information about Upstream Watch, contact Amy Grant at 491-6839 or learn@upstreamwatch.org.

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