Executives from Nordic Aquafarms were busy this week giving a series of tours out on the Samoa Peninsula, offering politicians, environmentalists, fishermen and others an up-close view of the dilapidated industrial site — home to the corroding remains of the Evergreen Pulp mill — where the company plans to build a large, land-based fish farm.
The draft environmental impact report for the project is still being prepared, so some of the details remain in flux. But here’s a quick recap of the project as proposed.
The five-building facility, totaling some 766,530 square feet, would include two massive production modules where all-female Atlantic salmon would be raised inside fully-contained recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Eggs would be imported, hatched in a dedicated facility and raised to juveniles, then transported via underground pipes to “grow-out modules” where they’d reach market size, eventually producing up to 27,000 metric tons of fish per year for distribution to markets up and down the West Coast. (The company is also developing a facility in Maine for distribution to East Coast markets.)
Nordic executives say the company aims not to compete with local fishermen but rather to supplant the huge supplies of fish currently being imported from overseas.
Seawater — 10 million gallons per day — would be drawn in from Humboldt Bay via existing sea chests, slated to be retrofitted with fine-mesh screens to prevent impingement and entrainment of sea life. The facility would also require up to 2 million gallons per day of fresh water, which the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD) has agreed to provide.
Treated effluent — 12.5 million gallons per day — would get pumped out to the Pacific Ocean via an existing 1.55-mile-long outfall pipe, which the Simpson Paper Company was made to install following a 1989 Clean Water Act lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.
Nordic’s planned wastewater treatment facility would remove 90 percent of the nitrogen and 99 percent of the phosphorus prior to discharge, according to the company’s published plans, though some environmental advocates have expressed concerns about potential impacts to ocean habitat. At a tour on Thursday, Marianne Naess, the company’s executive vice president of commercial operations, said Nordic will agree to independent monitoring of the effluent.
Prior to beginning construction, Nordic plans to spend an estimated $100 million on clean-up, remediation, demolition and various site improvements, including tsunami/earthquake safety measures.
As you’ll see in the photos below, the property remains occupied by crumbling buildings and infrastructure, much of which contains hazardous materials such as lead and asbestos. It’s a former brownfield now owned by the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. More than 3 million gallons of toxic pulping liquors were hauled off in 2014 with help from the EPA, but much more cleanup is needed.
Jennifer Kalt, executive director of environmental nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, said her organization still has concerns about whether the project can be completed in a way that protects the ecosystems of Humboldt Bay and the nearby Pacific. But after touring the site on Wednesday, she said in a Facebook post that the project would include not only much-needed cleanup but also construction of a modern stormwater system.
“As it stands today, every major rainstorm carries polluted runoff into the bay,” the post reads. “And the way our legal system works, it will stay that way until someone invests in the cleanup. Nordic estimates it will cost $10+ million to demolish and remove everything. Sure, the Harbor District can continue applying for EPA Brownfields grants, but at $250,000 apiece, it would take several lifetimes.”
The Outpost tagged along on Wednesday’s tour and snapped some photos, which you can see below. For more details on the project, see this post or you can contact Nordics local community liaison Lynette Mullen at Lynette.firstname.lastname@example.org.