A huge indoor fish farm project has submitted a first round of permit applications and its managers are confident that regulators will find its environmental impacts to be minimal.
​The Norway-based Nordic Aquafarms company took written questions and presented what its managers described as a “very low risk” project during a Sept. 9 videoconferenced public meeting.
​Nordic has advanced discharge permit applications to the state’s water board and Coastal Commission. Humboldt County will take the lead on the project’s California Environmental Quality Act review and coastal development permitting.
Asked by Humboldt Baykeeper about use of chemicals to address disease outbreaks, anti-biotics and heavy metals, Noyes emphasized that land-based aquaculture facilities have “the ability to exclude parasites and pathogens” and a fish vaccination program will target “any identified pathogens of concern.”
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The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday spent another two hours debating the fate of a billboard that was felled by wind last November, ultimately voting 3-2 to allow owner AllPoints Sign Company to rebuild the structure. However, in doing so, the three-member board majority added a provision that will require the sign, which sits in wetlands along the Elk River, to be permanently removed within five years.
That’s assuming it gets rebuilt. If AllPoints owner Geoff Wills accepts this five-year provision, he’ll still need to get approval from the California Coastal Commission before rebuilding the billboard.
During the public comment period, three people called in to advocate for upholding the Planning Commission’s denial of the permit. Jennifer Kalt, executive director of Humboldt Baykeeper, argued that the environmental document prepared for the project was inadequate, in part because no biologist has analyzed the wetlands where the sign is situated. 
“In short, I’d urge you to recognize that this billboard had a good run of many, many decades,” Kalt said, adding that it’s time to get rid of this structure standing in an environmentally sensitive habitat."
Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), seconded her comments and also questioned the adequacy of the environmental review. urge you to recognize that this billboard had a good run of many, many decades,” Kalt said, adding that it’s time to get rid of this structure standing in an environmentally sensitive habitat.
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Pacific Seafoods-Eureka is set to pay a USD 74,500 (EUR 63,411) penalty as part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over Clean Water Act violations, according to an EPA press release.

 

A 2018 inspection by the EPA, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Eureka’s Public Works Department revealed that Pacific was found discharging wastewater into Eureka, California’s sewage system, and Eureka Slough in Humboldt Bay without an appropriate permit.

 

The EPA found that Pacific’s violations included “wastewater from the indoor shrimp processing area bypassing the facility's pretreatment system … wastewater from the de-shelling process was observed entering a storm drain; and the company was discharging the water used to rinse off oysters and crabs directly into the Eureka Slough."

 

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The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday held off making a decision on the rebuilding of a controversial billboard after complicated questions emerged about the structure’s legality and environmental effects.

After a lengthy, often tense discussion, the supervisors postponed a decision to its Aug. 18 meeting, finding that county staff needs more time to investigate the billboard’s effects on the surrounding environment.

Staff had supported approving the rebuild — even after the county planning commission in May went against staff recommendation to deny the permit — but flipped at the eleventh hour after Planning and Building director John Ford said that a conversation with the project engineer that very morning had introduced new information about the billboard’s structural features.

Specifically, Ford said the billboard would dig additional holes in the wetlands, which wasn’t in the plans Ford had previously reviewed and needed further review to establish certainty.

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On the surface, the question was simple. Should Eureka’s AllPoints Sign Company be allowed to rebuild this thing? The advertising plank — some version of which has been in this spot for more than 60 years — blew over in a November windstorm, and AllPoints owner Geoff Wills wants to re-erect it.

Beneath the surface, however, lies a bureaucratic thicket of rules and regulations, raising questions about everything from potential environmental impacts to permit histories, engineering plans, agency jurisdictions and more. 

The staff report recommended approving the project — both at the Planning Commission meeting and again for today’s meeting. But after the public comment period, Ford reversed course. He said that his conversation with the project’s engineer this morning provided new information that hadn’t previously been considered.

“There could be up to 18 new holes dug that could be up to three feet in diameter within a wetland environment,” he said. “This has not been the context within which this [project] has been assessed.” That being the case, he said, “It would be my recommendation to not approve [the Planning Commission ruling] appeal or the special permit without having that additional information at least.”

Supervisor Mike Wilson’s motion to continue the matter to the board’s Aug. 18 meeting passed 3-2, giving county staff time to explore a host of unanswered (or insufficiently answered) questions, including:

  • the potential environmental impacts of digging foundation holes;

  • potential tribal concerns with those concrete footings;

  • any jurisdictional concerns from the State Lands Agency;

  • possible issues pertaining to public trust resources; and

  • the status of the original CalTrans Outdoor Advertising permit for the billboard.

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