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Department of Environment maintains the environmental assessment for the project was ‘robust,’ amid concerns from advocates
The provincial government has dismissed another appeal of the Grieg NL Placentia Bay Aquaculture Project, this time from the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
The appeal was based on three primary grounds: that the environmental impact statement (EIS) received in May was “patently deficient,” that the minister could not accept a deficient EIS and that the minister could not release a project from environmental assessment if the EIS was not up to par.
In a letter dated Nov. 23, the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment outlined its reasoning for rejecting the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s appeal.
The federation asserted that the evaluation of potential environmental impacts was not “rigorous, reasonable, balanced or transparent” and therefore could not have reached reasonable conclusions.
The Department of Environment, in a letter signed by Minister Graham Letto, asserts that the legal process was “strictly followed,” and had a “rigorous evaluation of potential impacts.”
The Atlantic Salmon Federation further raised concerns about the follow-up environmental monitoring programs for the project.
The department’s letter cites more than three dozen studies of wildlife impacts, socio-economic impacts, ice dynamic studies, and ocean current studies cited in the development of the project.
The letter outlines eight areas that future environmental effects monitoring plans will follow, including the performance of the sea cages, interactions of escaped farmed salmon and wild salmon, and water quality at the hatchery. The department states the government will also monitor the plans submitted by Grieg. The company will have to publicly report on its environmental monitoring annually.
The department finally asserts that the environmental impact statement of the Greig development was “subjected to a robust examination, including scrutiny by a federal-provincial environmental assessment committee.”
“The minister at the time (Perry Trimper) was of the opinion, based on all the information presented to him, that the EIS was not deficient, and I agree with his position on that,” reads the letter from the department.
Based on the department’s decision that the environmental impact statement and ensuing decision by the minister was acceptable, it dismissed the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s appeal.
The Placentia Bay aquaculture project will see a hatchery located in the northern part of Placentia Bay. By Year 8, the project is expected to produce seven million salmon per year. A hatchery for the project will be located at the Marystown Marine Industrial Park, while the ocean-based farms will be in Placentia Bay.
Concerns over the escape of farmed salmon were exacerbated in recent months after Cooke Aquaculture’s sea farms on the province’s south coast saw between 2,000 and 3,000 farmed salmon escape in August. The escape was attributed to human error, and not the failure of equipment.