State regulators have issued a wastewater discharge permit for an on-shore salmon farm proposed for the old Verso Mill site in Bucksport. Initially, Whole Oceans wants to grow 5,000 tons, and over the next 15 years expand that to 25,000 metric tons per year.
Department of Environmental Protection Chief Brian Kavanah says the 18.6 million gallons of treated water that will go into the Penobscot River daily should not pose a threat to water quality.
"To ensure that that's the case, we've put a couple things into this permit,” Kananah says. “One of the conditions is the applicant needs to do a dye study, really determine the flow of water in that area, particularly around Verona Island - the two channels around Verona Island, and also there's in-stream nitrogen sampling going on."
DEP reserves the right to impose new conditions if water quality issues emerge once the plant goes online. He also says DEP will continue to evaluate best practices as the developing large-scale on-shore salmon industry grows and innovates.
Another big salmon farm, proposed for Belfast by Norway-based Nordic Aquafarms, has applied for a wastewater permit as well.
Update: An original version of this report erroneously stated that Whole Oceans aimed to produce 44 million tons annually; it has been corrected to state that they aim to produce 25 metric tons per year.