Planning Commission set to review permits for Nordic Aquafarms project tonight | Lost Coast Outpost

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Diagram via Executive Summary of the Planning Commission.

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Three and a half years after Nordic Aquafarms announced plans to build a massive land-based fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula, the project is finally being presented to the Humboldt County Planning Commission tonight. Donors are seeking Environmental Impact Report (EIR) certification and approval of two key permits.

The Norway-based aquaculture company, which suffered an abrupt change in management earlier this month, needs both a coastal development permit and a special permit to go ahead with development, which involves the demolition and remediation of the former Samoa pulp mill, followed by construction of a 766,530 square foot recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility.

The project will also require separate permits from the California Coastal Commission and the Northcoast Regional Water Quality Control Board for the bay inlet and ocean outfall infrastructure.

The Port of Humboldt Bay, Recreation and Conservation District will apply for a permit to draw approximately 10 million gallons of salt water per day from Humboldt Bay via modernized water intake infrastructure called sea chests. The regional water board is to issue the permit for the daily discharge of 12.5 million gallons of treated sewage through an existing ocean outfall that stretches a mile and a half offshore.

Meanwhile, the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District has agreed to provide 2.5 million gallons of fresh and industrial water per day from the Mad River.

The Coast Commission must approve both the intake and discharge aspects of the project infrastructure, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife must approve the production of Atlantic salmon.

Jacqueline Cassida, a community liaison for Nordic based in Maine, where Nordic is pursuing a similar facility, told the Outpost by email on Thursday that “the Coastal Commission and the Regional Water Board are waiting for the EIR to be certified before moving forward with their process.”

Yet tonight’s hearing represents a monumental milestone for the ambitious fish farm project, which is expected to produce up to 27,000 metric tonnes of Atlantic salmon and gutted and head-on fillets each year for distribution to markets in the West Coast.

Since the initiative was first announced in early 2019, Port District Commissioners, County Supervisors and the business community have all been optimistic about the potential for economic development. The company’s latest estimates put the cost of the project at around $650 million, and it is expected to create up to 130 jobs by the time Phase 2 construction is complete in 2030.

And virtually everyone is excited about the prospect of seeing more cleanup and restoration of the crumbling pulp mill property.

But many people in the community still have reservations. Environmental concerns regarding the project’s impacts on the water intake, its nutrient-rich wastewater discharges, and its expected massive energy consumption are perhaps the most significant. At full construction, the fish farm is expected to have an electricity demand of 22.3 megawatts (one-year average), or 195 gigawatt hours of energy per year, which would represent approximately 21% of the county’s total electricity consumption. .

Under pressure from environmental groups, Nordic officials have pledged to use 100% renewable electricity, although details of how to procure this clean energy have yet to be spelled out. Plans for the facilities include a 4.8 megawatt solar array mounted on the roofs of buildings, covering approximately 657,000 square feet.

Other concerns expressed in public comments relate to the sourcing and ingredients of fish feed and the source of Atlantic salmon roe. Nordic has agreed to implement a mitigation monitoring and reporting plan.

The final environmental impact report, prepared for the county by local engineering firm GHD and made public about a month ago, concludes that there are no significant unavoidable environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated to a less than significant level.

The planning commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the boardrooms of the Humboldt County Courthouse. The only other item on the meeting agenda is a discussion of whether or not to send a letter to the board of supervisors regarding water storage requirements for cannabis projects.

Still, it’s entirely possible that the commission won’t conclude its decision-making process at tonight’s meeting. If so, the hearing will continue until a meeting a week from now on August 4.

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PREVIOUSLY

  • A massive new fish farm is in the works for the Samoa Peninsula; The port district is expected to bless the project led by a Norwegian company at a special meeting on Monday
  • Norwegian Fish Farm says operations in Samoa will create 80 jobs and produce 50 million pounds of salmon or steelhead trout a year
  • Let’s take a closer look at this large fish farm proposal for the Samoa Peninsula
  • County agrees to seek infrastructure funds in hopes of landing fish farm on Samoa Peninsula
  • Due diligence complete, Nordic Aquafarms decides to move forward with an aquaculture facility on the Samoa Peninsula
  • Nordic Aquafarms, which now has a local office and is recruiting employees, will host a community meeting tonight
  • Nordic Aquafarms Terminates Humboldt Leadership After Seeing Photo Of Him Posing With Lion He Killed
  • Nordic Aquafarms expands aquaculture facility plans and releases images showing what fish farming would look like
  • County Receives $300,000 in EPA Funding to Continue Cleanup and Development of Toxics on the Samoa Peninsula
  • Nordic Aquafarms is holding a public Zoom meeting on Wednesday to respond
  • Nordic Aquafarms plans to raise Atlantic salmon in a land-based fish farm on a former pulp mill property
  • The county says there is no significant environmental impact for the proposed fish farm in Samoa; Will receive comments, reviews until May 24
  • In a surprise move, Nordic Aquafarms agrees to complete a full environmental impact report for its land-based fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula
  • (PHOTOS) Nordic Aquafarms executives lead a tour of the corrosive remains of the pulp mill property where they plan to build a large land-based fish farm
  • (VIDEO) Take a virtual tour, with a brief history, of the peninsula project site proposed by Nordic Aquafarm
  • County Releases Draft Environmental Impact Report for Nordic Aquafarms Fish Factory Project on the Samoa Peninsula
  • With days left for public comment, Enviro groups seek more details and assurances in Nordic Aquafarms’ EIR
  • Publication of the final report on the environmental impact of the Nordic Aquafarms project; Planning Commission hearing scheduled for later this month
  • Senior executives of Nordic Aquafarms US operations mysteriously part ways with company
  • Nordic Aquafarms announces new interim president following sudden departure of senior executives
  • LoCO Interview: Outpost Speaks With New Nordic Aquafarms Acting CEO Brenda Chandler Ahead Of Hearing For Massive Land-Based Fish Farm
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