Ready for some acronyms? Buckle up: Humboldt County, acting as lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), has released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility that Nordic Aquafarms plans to build on the Samoa Peninsula.
Clocking in at 1,080 pages, the document, which was prepared by GHD, takes a deep dive into a long list of topics regarding the project’s anticipated environmental impacts. It responds to the hundreds of comments submitted by the public and various regulatory agencies following the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) in December.
The project is expected to come before the Humboldt County Planning Commission on July 28, according to Stacy Atkins-Salazar, who, in addition to being Arcata’s current mayor, is also an independent contractor working with Nordic to facilitate community outreach.
The Outpost has yet to pore through the entire document, but in a quick skim we note that the report addresses some of the most commonly expressed concerns about the draft EIR, including the project’s eyebrow-raising energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, truck traffic/road safety and the composition of the fish feed, though questions still remain — particularly on that last piece.
The FEIR notes that many commenters called for a more thorough analysis of truck traffic and questioned whether the projected truck trips listed in the DEIR were correct. The latest report explains its rationale and methodology and effectively dismisses those concerns, saying, “no new impacts have been raised that have not been adequately evaluated and found to be less than significant impacts.”
We mentioned the massive energy usage above. At full build-out (which isn’t expected to be complete until 2030), the project is expected to have an average electricity demand of 22.3 megawatts (averaged out over a year), or 195 gigawatt hours of energy per year. That would account for roughly 21 percent of the county’s total electricity usage.
The project description has been updated in the FEIR to reference the fact that Nordic has voluntarily committed to using 100 percent renewable and/or non-carbon energy. The report says the company has committed to meet the goals of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, the county’s local community choice aggregator for electricity.
“This commitment is not only described as part of the Project within the DEIR but is fully enforceable by the County through the County’s Coastal Development Permit (CDP) Conditions of Approval,” the report says.
However, the company does plan to install dual fuel generators, which would be capable of operating on natural gas and diesel. “Diesel fuel will be used to provide backup power if both natural gas and electricity temporarily fail,” the report says, adding that these emergency generators “would only be used during required testing … and power outages.”
As for the fish feed, the FEIR says the company still hasn’t made a final decision on the feed supplier and cannot say for sure what the ingredients will be.
“It is too early in the process to do so because the sources of ingredients making up these diets are changing as the aquaculture industry continuously strives for improvement in the sustainability ranking of those ingredients,” the report says. “A feed formulation that may be the best available today may not be the best 4-5 years in the future when operations are planned to commence.”
The report addresses many other aspects of the project, including the potential for fish escape (virtually nil, they say), the impacts of discharge from a 1.5-mile outfall pipe, waste handling/disposal and much more.
If you’d like to download the full report, you can find a link near the top of the page at this link.
- County Releases Draft Environmental Impact Report for Nordic Aquafarms’ Fish Factory Project on the Samoa Peninsula
- With Just Days Left for Public Comment, Enviro Groups Seek More Detail, Assurances in Nordic Aquafarms’ EIR
- The Public Can Comment on Nordic Aquafarms’ Proposed Land-Based Fish Farm During Tonight’s Humboldt County Planning Commission Meeting