Comments are due February 18th on Humboldt County’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Nordic Aquafarms project - a massive land-based fish factory at the former Samoa pulp mill. Baykeeper staff, volunteers, student interns, and our NGO allies have been following this project closely for three years. While the project’s benefits include cleanup of the site, we continue to have serious misgivings about its impacts on the ocean, bay, and greenhouse gas emissions. The project would be the largest in Humboldt County in decades. At full build out, it would use 21% of the county’s energy supplies - as much as the cities of Eureka and Fortuna combined. And yet the DEIR concludes there would be no significant impacts from greenhouse gas emissions, truck traffic, bay intakes that will draw 10,000,000 gallons and an ocean discharge of 12,000,000 gallons of treated wastewater a day.Although its wastewater would have lower nitrogen concentrations than the effluent from antiquated municipal wastewater treatment plants around the bay, it would add to the existing nutrient load. It would also discharge warmer water with lower pH and salinity than the receiving waters. This combination has the potential to exacerbate the toxic algae blooms that have devastated the crab and clam fisheries in recent years.Numerous impacts have not been adequately assessed in the DEIR, including energy demands, greenhouse gas emissions, the ocean discharge, and impacts to wildlife related to the bay intakes. We believe reasonable changes to reduce these impacts are achievable. To make sure Nordic commits to these changes, we are requesting the following modifications:
A new analysis modeling potential impacts using ambient water quality data from ocean waters near the discharge point, rather than data taken in Humboldt Bay (approximately 3.5 miles south-southeast of the end of the ocean outfall pipe).
Levels of toxic algae should be monitored both pre- and post-project and compared to thresholds that would trigger protective actions before another toxic algae bloom leads to harmful levels of domoic acid.
An explicit requirement in the EIR that the project will, from day one of operations, be powered solely by renewable energy.
Additional onsite renewable energy production through more aggressive utilization of solar, including over parking areas.
The Nordic Aquafarms project is projected to use as much energy as the cities of Eureka and Fortuna combined. To mitigate the greenhouse gases associated with this energy usage, we are asking that they be required to use 100% renewable energy and maximize feasible on-site solar energy production.