Maine BEP schedules Nordic Aquafarm review hearings for February 2020

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 4:00pm

AUGUSTA — Since last June, when the Maine Board of Environmental Protection agreed to take over permit review of the Nordic Aquafarm large-scale indoor salmon breeding facility in Belfast, the focus has been on deciding which organizations, groups and individuals have intervenor status and standing to speak at the hearing, identifying the core issues in dispute, deciding which issues will be the subject of the hearing, and then setting the date when the hearing will take place.

On Nov. 8, the BEP issued its schedule for the Nordic hearing, and included deadlines and guidelines for submissions. The BEP requested that Nordic provide a large-scale plan of the proposed project for use at the hearing.

The seven-member BEP consists of citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Maine Legislature. The BEP provides an independent voice on administration and enforcement of Mine’s environmental policies and laws. The board handles appeals of DEP licensing and enforcement actions, and while part of the Maine DEP, the board is a separate body.

The schedule follows:

Friday, December 13, 2019 at 5 p.m.: deadline for the parties to pre-file their direct testimony on the hearing issues.

Friday, December 20, 2019 at 5 p.m.: deadline for any objections to pre-filed direct testimony.

Friday, December 27, 2019 at 5 p.m.: deadline for any responses to objections to pre-filed direct testimony. The Presiding Officer will then rule on any objections to direct testimony.

Friday, January 3, 2020 at noon: deadline for any appeal to the Board of the Presiding Officer’s ruling on objections to direct testimony.

Thursday, January 9, 2020: The Board will hear any appeal of the Presiding Officer’s ruling on objections to testimony.

Friday, January 17, 2020 at 5 p.m.: deadline for filing of rebuttal testimony.

Friday, January 24, 2020 at noon: deadline for any objections to rebuttal testimony.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at noon: deadline for any responses to objections. The Presiding Officer will then rule on any objections to rebuttal testimony.

Monday, February 3, 2020 at noon: deadline for any appeal to the Board of the Presiding Officer’s ruling on objections to rebuttal testimony.

Thursday, February 6, 2020. The Board will hear any appeal of the Presiding Officer’s rulings on objections to rebuttal testimony.

The hearing is scheduled for the week of February 10, 2020.

The deadline for written comments on non-hearing issues submitted by the parties or the general public is the close of the hearing unless the Presiding Officer sets another date or determines that the record should be held open beyond the close of the hearing to receive specific information requested by the Board.

A pre-hearing conference is scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 2020 immediately following the Board meeting.

Nordic Aquafarms, Inc., proposal

Nordic Aquafarms, Inc. submitted state and municipal applications to develop a land based salmon aquaculture facility on a 56 acre site located on the northwesterly side of Route 1 near the lower reservoir of the Little River.

The privately-owned company,  develop the project in two phases over 5 or more years.

“Total production capacity at build-out is estimated to be 72,732,000 pounds (33,000 metric tons) of salmon per year.

“Phase 1 involves the construction of about 414,450 square feet of buildings, and Phase 2 involves the construction of about 392,804 square feet of buildings; each phase involves rearing and processing a similar amount of salmon.

The facility would use a Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) to process water used in rearing the salmon in land based tanks.

At full build-out, the facility is projected to use 1,205 gallons of freshwater per minute and 3,925 gallons of saltwater per minute.

“The freshwater is proposed to be obtained from three sources: the Belfast Water District (about 500 gpm), on-site groundwater wells (about 455 gpm) and the extraction of surficial water from Reservoir 1 on the Little River (about 250 gpm).

Saltwater is to be drawn from Belfast Bay via two new off-shore water intake pipes that extend about 6,300 feet from the High Annual Tide into the Bay.

The RAS system also involves Nordic Aquafarms treating and regularly discharging the freshwater and saltwater (wastewater/effluent) used to rear salmon back into Belfast Bay via a discharge pipe that extends offshore about 3,400 feet from the High Annual Tide.