How Nordic's California RAS will look if it gets the go-ahead from authorities. Image: Nordic Aquafarms Inc.

Nordic Aquafarms begins permitting process for California RAS

Nordic Aquafarms Inc has submitted the first permit application for its planned on-land Atlantic salmon farm at Humboldt, northern California.

Published Last updated

Nordic presented its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPS) application to the Regional Water Quality Control Board yesterday, it said in a press release.

The Norwegian-owned company plans to build recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) salmon farms in Belfast, Maine and on the Samoan Peninsula, Humboldt. Both will have a capacity to produce 33,000 tonnes of fish annually.

Marianne Naess: Good progress in California.

Good collaboration

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been able to make good progress in California”, said Nordic Aquafarms Inc executive vice president Marianne Naess, who is in charge of the Humboldt project.

“Our staff in California, Maine, and the Nordics have been engaged in the work with our local permitting vendors. CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and our last permit applications will be submitted in November.”

Nordic said good collaboration with the authorities and many stakeholders in California had been vital for the swift progress there. California had gained “significant timeline” compared to the process Nordic Aquafarms has been through in Maine. 

“We would like to thank the Humboldt community for its warm welcome to Nordic Aquafarms,” said Naess.

Court case

Nordic’s application for a RAS facility in Belfast has been delayed by opposition from some residents who disagree with the location chosen and have expressed concern about the effect of discharges into Penobscot Bay. The ownership of a section of foreshore which Nordic intends to use for pipeline access to the bay is the subject of an ongoing court case.

Nordic both the dilution analysis and the marine resources impact analysis for Humboldt conclude that there will be a less than significant impact on receiving waters and marine life from the discharge from the facility, and therefore no need for further mitigation.

The discharge will be sent through an already existing pipe into open waters where effective dilution is achieved, with no impairment of waters identified.

High standards

“Nordic Aquafarms applies the same high standards for discharge treatment as in Maine, where 99% of particles and most nutrients are removed before discharge, and nitrogen is reduced by more than 85%,” stated the company.

“In addition, microfiltration is applied with strong UV doses to enable the highest biosecurity levels in the industry on both intake and discharge.

“99% of the water in our system is recycled and continuously treated. The remaining 1% is thoroughly treated before it is discharged.

“These are the highest standards in the industry for discharge to receiving waters, and in Nordic Aquafarms’ view the future of ocean stewardship.”

Nordic farms yellowtail kingfish in a RAS in Denmark and has a small-scale salmon RAS in Fredrikstad, in south east Norway.