Letter to the editor: Lawrence Reichard

Nordic opposition is ‘not done fighting’

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 1:30pm

There are many problems with Mike Hurley's May 10 letter to the editor regarding the industrial fish factory Nordic Aquafarms has proposed for Belfast, but the worst of them is hurling accusations at Nordic opponents without offering a shred of evidence.

“They call people like myself collaborators and a company like Nordic foreign invaders,” Hurley says.  He suggests that Nordic opponents call the City of Belfast “prostitutes and on the take.”  But Hurley offers no evidence.  No names.  No dates.  No venues.  Nothing.  I have been following the Nordic controversy closely since Nordic went public 27 months ago, and I have never heard nor seen any of this.  

Hurley accuses opponents of using “terminology like destroy.”  Guilty as charged.  I frequently use the word “destroy” when writing about what Nordic would do in Belfast, and that's because it's accurate.  By Nordic's own admission, it would destroy dozens of acres of mature forest, wetlands and the habitat of at least one threatened species.  

Hurley complains that the Nordic opposition “grinds on” in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.  What Hurley doesn't say is that fully 40 days after the Wold Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global health emergency, Nordic tried to pressure the state Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) to speed up its deliberations, which are supposed to protect Maine's environment from rapacious, polluting corporations such as Nordic.  Grind on indeed.  

Hurley says the Nordic opposition has “lost every battle,” but the only battle the opposition has lost is when Hurley's city council rushed to change the zoning for Nordic's proposed site, despite written citizen comments that ran more than 130 to nothing against Nordic.

According to Hurley, the Nordic opposition has failed to convince any judge.  This is patently false.  In fact, Nordic lost its anti-SLAPP suit against the Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area.  Indeed, it is Nordic that has failed to convince any judge.  

Hurley bemoans the delays that have plagued Nordic, but these delays are the result of Nordic's incompetence, its ever-shifting plans, and its attempt to illegally appropriate the land of longtime Belfast residents Judith Grace and Jeffrey Mabee, whom Hurley has repeatedly disparaged in favor of a large multinational corporation from 3,000 miles away.

Hurley heralds Nordic's magically expanding jobs numbers, but he fails to mention that of the 30 or more people Nordic has hired so far, only a few are from Waldo County. Many or most of Nordic's would-be jobs would require expertise not found here and thus would go to people from away.

Hurley also heralds Nordic's supposed tax benefits, but so far Nordic has fed handsomely at the public trough by, among other things, getting the City of Belfast to pay hall rental for its propaganda meetings and by securing a sweetheart deal to pay half its dechlorination costs, something the City never offered to Marshall Wharf Brewing Company, which actually did employ local people and pay local taxes.  Here and in Norway, Nordic has taken advantage of every tax break it can get its hands on.  It even registered in Delaware, an infamous haven for tax chiselers.

Hurleys says tens of thousands of Waldo County residents are unemployed.  But, according to worldpopulationreview.com there are 39,800 people in Waldo County, and according to statista.com, 60.8 percent of the U.S. population works – is of working age, is physically capable, etc.   Thus, if Hurley were right, we would have unemployment of at least 82 percent.  What is more, as of May 14, indeed.com lists 872 jobs available in the 04915 zip code.  Unemployment is clearly a major problem in the U.S. as a whole, but equally clear is that Hurley has his facts wrong.  

To his credit, Hurley did get one thing right.  He said the Nordic opposition is “not done fighting.”  That's right, we're not.  And we won't be done fighting until we defeat this corporation that wants to daily spew 1,600 pounds of nitrogen and 100 pounds of phosphorous into Belfast Bay; destroy woods, wetlands and wildlife habitat; threaten fishing, lobstering and tourism by disrupting and dispersing settled mercury deposits in Belfast Bay; and threaten our aquifer and watershed by using at least 630,000,000 gallons of water per year – all for the benefit of executives, wealthy investors, and high-end consumers.

Lawrence Reichard lives in Belfast