Maine RAS farm project wins $5 million grant

Land-based start-up Katahdin Salmon has been awarded a $5 million (£3.9 million) grant to remediate its proposed recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) plant in Maine, in the northeastern United States States.

The company will also have a new name: “Great Northern Salmon”. Marianne Naess, CEO of Great Northern Salmon, said: “Katahdin Salmon has been a great name for the early stages of development in Maine. As the company enters a new phase, it is the right time to transition to a name that reflects the company’s developments and the way forward, but still connects the company to the local community.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleanup grant will be used to ensure the plant, located on the site of an old paper mill, is free of contamination from former industrial uses. The grant was awarded to the company’s development partner Our Katahdin for the remediation of the project site in collaboration with Katahdin Salmon. This grant is in addition to $1 million (£787 million) in funding from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development for the same purpose.

Our Katahdin is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization committed to advancing community and economic development in the Katahdin region.

The Millinocket plant will be located on the 1,400-acre site that belonged to the Great Northern Paper Company, which closed permanently in 2008. When the Millinocket Mill opened in 1900, it was the largest paper mill in the world. It was the first paper mill with its own hydro generation and distribution facility.

Contractors from across the country have expressed interest in the project, which will be managed by Sevee & Maher Engineering. The contractor is expected to be selected within a few months, with remediation to begin later this summer. The main work consists of decanting the lagoon, removing old infrastructure and processing the sludge deposits on site.

Sean DeWitt, president of Our Katahdin, said, “We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The grant will play a crucial role in remediating 26 hectares of the former factory’s wastewater lagoon. This EPA-funded project will pave the way for the Great Northern Salmon (formerly Katahdin Salmon) aquaculture project, which has secured major project permits and is expected to begin construction in 2025.”

“We are grateful for the support of the EPA, our federal delegation and the many local and state organizations that have supported the cleanup and infrastructure improvements at the former plant site. These investments lay the foundation for significant job creation and a better economic future for the Katahdin region,” he added.

The federal and state contributions reduce overall CAPEX, the company said, and allow it to begin construction with a fully prepared and excavated site, reducing construction costs and timeline. This will shorten the construction schedule by an estimated six months.

Marianne Naess said: “To be selected by the EPA for a substantial grant like this is a testament to the high-quality work that our development partner, Our Katahdin, has put into developing the former paper mill site and also to the great potential for Katahdin Salmon to reuse it. the website.”

She also explained that while the company is focused on developing its first location in Millinocket, the new brand will be scalable to future locations and reflects its ambition to expand to future locations across North America.

Great Northern Salmon, formerly Katahdin, is a company of Xcelerate Aqua, founded by Marianne Naess and Erik Heim, who left Nordic Aquafarms in 2022.

Marianne Naess and Erik Heim