Letter to the editor: Lawrence Reichard

Belfast moves heaven and earth for sake of carbon-intensive corporation

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 1:45pm

On February 5, salmonbusiness.com reported that a court in Fredrikstad, Norway, hometown of Nordic Aquafarms, ordered Fredrikstad Seafoods, Nordic’s Norwegian affiliate, to pay Graakjaer, a Danish “supply” firm, a total of $3.7 million euro – more than $4 million – in a cross-suit dispute over flaws in the design of Fredrikstad Seafoods’ industrial fish factory in Fredrikstad.

The design flaws delayed construction of the plant by months and were costly to Fredrikstad Seafoods – and thus to Nordic.

In the fall of 2018, I traveled to Fredrikstad to look into Nordic Aquafarms’ operations there, and word on the street was that the legal dispute arose when Nordic’s building(s) started sinking into the ground, from its/their sheer weight, and this happened because the quality and character of the site’s subsoil hadn’t been adequately studied or assessed. It was thought Nordic might have relied on assurances from the City of Fredrikstad that the site and or subsoil were fine.

This is all very interesting for various reasons.

Firstly, a source from the Swedish firm Skanska, the biggest construction contractor in Scandinavia, told me it was incumbent on Nordic, not Graakjaer, to know about the subsoil.

Secondly, this is reminiscent of Nordic’s initial statement that they scoured the world and Belfast was the perfect place for its next fish farm – only to then quietly announce much later that it must remove at least 14,000 truckloads of earth from its proposed Belfast site, thus dramatically increasing its already quite considerable carbon footprint.

This because soil sequesters carbon, but not when it’s dug up and carted off in 14,000-plus truckloads.

And though perhaps not directly related to the soil issue, here in Belfast we have witnessed, and continue to witness, a municipal government moving heaven and, well, earth for the sake of this highly polluting and very carbon-intensive for-profit corporation from 3,000 miles away. 

Fredrikstad Seafoods’ lawsuit against Graakjaer is reminiscent of Nordic’s behavior here in Belfast when Nordic discovered that the intertidal zone it needed to cross with its salt-water intake and effluent discharge pipes was perhaps not owned by Janet and Richard Eckrote, who were prepared to give Nordic permission to cross that intertidal zone.

Instead of approaching the intertidal zone’s perhaps rightful owners, Nordic filed a DEP permit application that failed to mention its discovery that the Eckrotes’ possession of the intertidal zone was at best in considerable doubt. And when this failure was discovered, Nordic attempted to shift the blame for its poor business judgment – just as it did with Graakjaer in Fredrikstad. Only this time it tried – incredibly – to shift the blame to those who had uncovered its, Nordic’s, subterfuge.

Lawrence Reichard lives in Belfast