DEP report says Kingfish nitrogen could damage habitat in Jonesport water

This week the Jonesport Planning Board begins the hard work of reviewing the Kingfish project. As a former selectman and supporter of aquaculture, I understand there is pressure from all sides regarding the future of the project. On one hand, you have the vote last week, which showed support for Kingfish, and you have others who feel strongly it shouldn’t move forward. I wonder how many people really knew what they were voting on last week or had a chance to look at what the state is suggesting. It’s a lot of work to weed through the hundreds of pages of the applications and the permits that have been granted.

I like to look at the facts and I am looking at some disturbing information from the permit that was granted by the Department of Environmental Protection.

It’s this piece that I found most concerning on page 25 of 44 on the final permit granted to KF by the state:

Therefore, the Department has determined that the proposed nitrogen discharge from the Kingfish facility will result in a lowering of the water quality as it relates to eelgrass habitat.

On page 28 it states: “…the department finds that the new proposed discharge from Kingfish will result in a lowering of existing water quality as it is related to eelgrass as an indicator for nitrogen and that this lowering of water quality is necessary to achieve important economic or social benefits to the state.

In other words, it may not benefit Jonesport at all, and the state is willing to let our waters be degraded for a benefit that no one can guarantee. This is where local control comes in and good decision-making. The planning board has the tools to asses this project in the best interests of the town. Our standards may in fact by higher than the state’s. Sometimes you have to look hard at whose interests are being served.

Ralph Smith
Machias Valley News Observer, August 3, 2022