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February 14, 2019

Nordic Aquafarms seeks BEP review of its permit applications

Courtesy / Nordic Aquafarms
Courtesy / Nordic Aquafarms
Nordic Aquafarms, which is pursuing a $150 million Phase 1 land-based salmon aquafarm in Belfast, is consolidating permit applications with the Maine Board of Environmental Protection that previously were being submitted to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Nordic Aquafarms is moving its state permit applications to the jurisdiction of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, a seven-member citizen board created by the Legislature to provide, informed, independent and timely decisions on the interpretation, administration and enforcement of the laws relating to environmental protection.

The company, which is pursuing a $150 million Phase 1 land-based salmon aquafarm in Belfast, is consolidating permit applications with BEP that previously were being submitted to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection — namely its application for a Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or MEPDES, permit; as well as for permits under the Site Location of Development Act and the Natural Resources Protection Act.

Bangor Daily News reported that the BEP members would be assisted by an assistant attorney general, an analyst and DEP staff in their evaluation of Nordic Aquafarms' applications.

Marianne Naess, Nordic Aquafarms director of operations, told the newspaper that working with the BEP would simplify matters for the permitting process since the citizen board is where an appeal of a DEP decision would end up if the company continued pursuing approvals through the DEP.

"We think it's better to work directly with the board because that takes away all the arguments," she told the newspaper. "Everyone gets the chance to have public input in this process. We're just committed to going through and being put under the same scrutiny as everyone else."

According to the BEP's website, its mission as established by the Legislature is to "provide for credible, fair and responsible public participation in department decisions. The board's duties include: major substantive rule-making, review of certain license applications, decisions on appeals of the commissioner's licensing and enforcement actions, and recommending changes in the law to the Legislature. While the board is part of the Department of Environmental Protection, it has independent decision-making authority in the areas of its responsibility."

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