Many opponents of Nordic Aquafarms' proposed land-based salmon farm wore red Tuesday night at a public hearing before the Board of Environmental Protection. Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

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Upstream Watch, an advocate for the waters of midcoast Maine, points out on their  website that there are closed RAS (recirculating aquafarm systems) operating in the U.S. and Canada with no release of antibiotics, growth hormones, or wastewater. By contrast, the projected discharge from Nordic Aquafarms’ open RAS would release an estimated 1,480 pounds of nitrogen daily in addition to phosphorus, formaldehyde, disinfectants, antibiotics, and pharmaceuticals into the Penobscot Bay. Excess nitrogen in seawater  can cause algal blooms that lower the dissolved oxygen level for all marine life leading to fish-kills and possible damage to neighboring small-scale aquaculture farms.

According to Upstream Watch, Nordic Aquafarms would discharge  7.7 million gallons of warm effluent directly into the ocean on a daily basis in spite of the Gulf of Maine reportedly being one of the most rapidly warming bodies of water on earth. Nordic Aquafarms would generate an estimated 650,000 to 750,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. This energy use is something Central Maine Power apparently cannot provide without a $63 million dollar upgrade.

Nordic Aquafarms will dredge up sediment from the Penobscot Bay in order to bury its discharge and intake pipes through an intertidal zone out to the Gulf of Maine. There are concerns that the bottom of the Penobscot Bay contains mercury deposited into the Penobscot River by the former HoltraChem Manufacturing plant. Upstream Watch has raised concerns about this sediment being dewatered and dumped back into the Penobscot Bay by Nordic Aquafarms, further contaminating marine life by exposure to high levels of mercury.

Val Philbrick

Old Orchard Beach

This letter has been updated to reflect Nordic Aquafarms’ approved discharge permit.