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Big Aqua's Big Footprint

Nordic led the public to believe that their facility would have a very low carbon footprint. Their main argument centered on not flying salmon from Norway to supply the Northeastern markets. (As if there is no where else to source salmon from, or other, local and regional species to consume.) Pretty slides and fancy talk described a factory run on solar energy, using Tesla trucks, and squeaky clean effluent being dumped in deep ocean currents, among other enticing public relations spins.

The public believed them. With no actual data on hand representatives and several large environmental groups enthusiastically declared their support. Upstream Watch decided it wanted to see the numbers before making any conclusions. We also requested that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Governor require Nordic to submit data concerning its carbon footprint.

Our requests went unheard, and our warnings unheeded. We did the research. Below is a summary. Please see links for more details.

  • Nordic did not provide any information to the public, despite numerous requests from citizens, the City of Belfast and DEP, on their power needs. Most of the information provided to CMP and the Maine Public Utility Commission (PUC) is redacted (hidden).

  • What can be gathered from the PUC documents is that Nordic’s estimated peak power demand is 28 megawatts (see point 39 in link). This is equivalent to adding 35,000 to 40,000 new homes to the Midcoast region.

  • Nordic’s demands require a rebuild of CMP Line 80. The width of line 80 would need to increase from 75 feet to 105 feet.

  • The estimated cost for the rebuild is $63.6 million, which would be allocated on a region-wide basis. Maine’s share of the region-wide allocation would be approximately $5.1 million. (Read taxpayers.)

  • A maturing, carbon sequestering forest and 17 wetlands, 7 streams and meadows, would be destroyed, and all carbon storing soils removed and replaced from 20-50 feet deep due to soil unsuitability. (Soil suitability is a DEP requirement.)

  • This preliminary study was conducted in 2019 for Upstream Watch. It was presented to the Governor and the DEP. The study’s data includes “embodied” and “operational” carbon estimates. The figures are very conservative estimates because Nordic refused to share data concerning their power needs despite repeated requests from the authors. As a result, this study includes emissions from Nordic’s eight industrial diesel generators (14 MW) but not the additional 14 MW needed. (A need that was revealed after the permitting process.)

The study also does not include:

  • The elimination of the discharge area’s present blue carbon sequestration, and its sequestration potential if fully restored.

  • The loss of sequestration from coastal and terrestrial wetlands, and increased sequestration potential from restoration. (Wetlands are some of the largest stores of carbon on the planet. When disturbed or warmed, they release the three most potent GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Nordic would pay over half a million to destroy the wetlands.

  • The marine and economic and cultural destruction caused by fishmeal production, plus transportation. Additional information on fishmeal for industrial aquaculture can be found here and here. There are no viable alternatives to fishmeal that do not include fish.

  • No research has been conducted on how this facility would contribute to ocean acidification.

How is it that despite a state commissioned study on ocean acidification that recommends action to “preserve, enhance and manage a sustainable harvest of kelp, rockweed, and native algae, and preserve and enhance eelgrass beds” to increase the state’s capacity to mitigate, and adapt to the impacts of ocean acidification due to rising concentrations of CO2, that absolutely no studies and no data was required? Does the state just commission studies in order to ignore the conclusions?

And how is it that the Maine Climate Council report states that Maine’s 2,000 miles of coastline has 10 times the amount of carbon sequestration capability than all the terrestrial features of the State, but no study has been conducted to assess the impacts of 7.7 million gallons of warm effluent on the shallow waters directly off Brown’s Head in Northport every single day for 30 years?

Issuing a permit for a facility of this magnitude that includes no independent studies

concerning GHG pollution, and the loss of present and potential carbon sequestration is, at this point in our climate and extinction crisis, not only a catastrophic omission, but a moral failure.

Big Aqua's Big Footprint
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