Undercurrent News recently interviewed Nordic Aquafarms’ president Eric Heim asking him about unexpected challenges and public concerns regarding the Belfast proposal. Heim replied, “That’s just a part of the game that you end up dealing with in some locations.”
I doubt if anyone who lives here, whether they’re for or against this project, thinks this is a game. People on both sides of the discussion have spent endless hours reviewing Nordic’s permit applications, attending meetings and asking questions. Back in August of 2019 the Planning Board asked Eric Heim: “What are the financial implications of adding your California project?” Heim’s answer was: “It’s important to put together a good Equity Story for investors to get interested.”
Everyone in our community is an investor, because our water and bay are part of the deal. We need more than a story. It is Nordic’s job to have actual data and answers. Nordic has provided lots of engineering models but, in the time since Nordic first proposed their Partial RAS in Belfast, it has already become outdated. Unlike the Nordic proposal, closed RAS systems recycle 100% of fresh and brine water, minimize power usage, and don’t pollute the ocean.
This past November, Forbes held an investor’s conference in New York sending the message that Closed Land Based RAS is where the industry is headed. Nordic still hasn’t answered the Planning Board’s question from last August. They have yet to prove they have the financial capacity required, and the investor money in this industry is already going in another direction.
If Nordic wanted to build a zero discharge RAS on a brown field, they would indeed be bringing an exciting opportunity for the future to Belfast, with less destruction to the land and less risk to the water; BUT if they want to dig up the Belfast Bay Watershed to build a food processing plant that would discharge millions of gallons of wastewater into the bay, then we’re going backwards towards past industries.
Requesting clarifying data after the permitting process is too late. Requesting proof of financial capabilities after Nordic breaks ground is too late. “A good Equity Story” isn’t enough to ensure the protection of our waterways, and nothing about this is a game.
Sally Brophy lives in Belfast