BELFAST — For the past 25 years, we have owned the shorefront property directly across Route 1 from the Belfast Water District, where Nordic Aquafarms is now hoping to build its salmon farm. A recent search of land records that was conducted by Upstream Watch, a Belfast-based group opposed to Nordic Aquafarms, showed that we also own the intertidal area in front of the three neighboring properties. This includes the area that Nordic Aquafarms shows, in its application to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, as the place it plans to cross to reach Penobscot Bay with its intake and effluent discharge pipes.

A May 8 post on Nordic Aquafarms’ Facebook page stated, referring to Upstream Watch: “They have also in their crusade revealed that some shoreline owners do not own their intertidal, which may be an unpleasant surprise to some owners. We withheld our surveys when we became aware of this situation some months back – it was not our role to reveal such sensitive information to the community and owners. Some of these shoreline owners might have wanted to acquire rights to their intertidal, while Upstream Watch is now trying to take control of them. Is this how fellow citizens treat each other in this town? We think the majority would not.”

This post demonstrates that Nordic Aquafarms knew there were ownership issues when it applied to the Bureau of Parks and Lands to lay its pipes across this intertidal zone. We think it would have been much more neighborly and ethical if Nordic Aquafarms had talked with us some months back when the company found out from its own surveys that there were potential ownership issues.

This treatment feels disrespectful to us and not what we would expect from a business that wants to be a good neighbor. But it isn’t the first time we have questioned how Nordic Aquafarms will do business if this project receives state approval and moves forward.

Nearly a year ago, when Nordic Aquafarms first presented its plans for a land-based salmon farm to the Belfast community, we were open to the possibility that Nordic Aquafarms might be a viable business to have in our town. Nordic Aquafarms talked about its effluent pipe going a mile out into the bay where there would be “deep ocean currents” to disperse what little thoroughly treated water they were putting into the bay. Nordic Aquafarms said it would be “drilling horizontally” under the highway, the land and the beach, with no disruption to the upland surface and intertidal zone.

As time went on, the company dropped and changed one after another of the plans that had made it sound like a clean and responsible business for our community. The company’s effluent pipe, it turned out, would be dumping 7.7 million gallons a day of warm (59 to 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit) wastewater in the bay – more than neighboring Bayside is authorized to dump in a year. This water, containing 1,484 pounds of nitrogen per day, as well as another 400 pounds of suspended solids and other chemicals, would be discharged through a pipe that has been shortened by over a third and will be many miles away from any “deep ocean currents.” Plans for underground horizontal drilling were changed to digging trenches over shoreland property and intertidal areas. (See upstreamwatch.org for more information.)

Eventually, we began to wonder if we could be certain that anything Nordic Aquafarms said would turn out to be true. And then we learned that it had apparently hidden the truth about our ownership of the intertidal property the company planned to cross. If any business is using our beautiful Penobscot Bay for any part of its production, we want it to be people who have a track record of honesty, integrity and following through on their stated plans to take good care of the environment and to be good, respectful neighbors.