Publication of the final report on the environmental impact of the Nordic Aquafarms project; Planning Commission hearing scheduled for later this month | Lost Coast Outpost
Ready for some acronyms? Buckle Up: Humboldt County, acting as the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), has released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the facility of the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) that Nordic Aquafarms plans to build on the Samoa Peninsula.
At 1,080 pages, the document, which was prepared by GHD, dives deep into a long list of topics regarding the project’s anticipated environmental impacts. It responds to hundreds of comments submitted by the public and various regulators following the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) in December.
The project is set to be presented to the Humboldt County Planning Commission on July 28, according to Stacy Atkins-Salazar, who in addition to being the current mayor of Arcata is also an independent contractor working with Nordic to facilitate the community awareness.
The Outpost has not yet gone through the entire document, but in a brief overview, we note that the report addresses some of the most frequently expressed concerns about the RIE project, including the project’s mind-boggling energy consumption, the greenhouse gas emissions, truck traffic and road safety. and the composition of the fish diet, although questions remain – particularly on this last element.
The FEIR notes that many commentators have called for more analysis of truck traffic and questioned whether the predicted truck routes listed in the DEIR are correct. The latest report explains its rationale and methodology and effectively dismisses these concerns by stating that “no new impacts have arisen that have not been properly assessed and found to be less than significant.”
We mentioned the massive power consumption above. At full construction (expected to be completed no earlier than 2030), the project is expected to have an average electricity demand of 22.3 megawatts (one-year average), or 195 gigawatt hours of energy per year. This would represent approximately 21% of the county’s total electricity consumption.
The project description has been updated in the RIRF to reference that Nordic has voluntarily committed to using 100% renewable and/or carbon-free energy. The report says the company is committed to meeting the goals of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, the county’s local community aggregator of choice for electricity.
“This commitment is not only described as part of the project in the DEIR, but is fully enforceable by the county through the county’s Coastal Development Permit (CDP) terms of approval,” the report said.
However, the company plans to install dual-fuel generators, which would be able to run on natural gas and diesel. “Diesel fuel will be used to provide backup power in the event of a temporary natural gas and power outage,” the report said, adding that these emergency generators “would only be used during required tests … and power outages = blackout”.
When it comes to fish feed, FEIR says the company still hasn’t made a final decision on the feed supplier and can’t say for sure what the ingredients will be.
“It is too early in the process to do so as the sources of ingredients that make up these diets are changing as the aquaculture industry continually strives to improve the sustainability rankings of these ingredients,” the report states. “A feed formulation that may be the best available today may not be the best in the next 4-5 years when operations are expected to begin.”
The report discusses many other aspects of the project, including the potential for fish escape (virtually zero, they say), the impacts of releasing a 1.5 mile drainpipe, handling/the waste disposal and much more.
If you want to download the full report, you can find a link at the top of the page on this link.