Jan 30, 2015

Searsport planning board's 1/216/15 Grimmel scrap steel export plan hearing. Company reps testify, get grilled.

On January 26, 2015, following  a video of  noise being generated at Grimmel Industries' former site in Portsmouth NH, the Searsport Planning Board heard from (and questioned) Grimmel, its lawyer and a Sprague Energy rep, before an attentive audience concerned citizens and their attorney. A third hearing will take place on February 9th 

Part 1  Atty Brian Rayback of Pierce Atwood pt1  5min  

Part 2  Brian Rayback, Pierce Atwood pt 2 6min 22 sec  

Part 3   Brian Rayback of Pierce Atwood &  Sprague  8min Note: Sprague rep starts at 4min:30 sec

Part 4  9min 15sec Sprague questioned by Planning board 9min 15sec. "...a violation of the permit would be our violation." at end of  segment

Jan 28, 2015

Who Guards the Guardians of natural Maine?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a phrase of the 1st century AD Roman poet Juvenal from his 6th Satire. "Who will guard the guards themselves?" he worried. 

 Below, listen to a January 26, 2015 Pen Bay Report interview  of one of those guardians of the guards: Kyla Bennet, New England director of  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. (Five mp3s)
.When it comes to Nature, PEER  fights for the right of honest officials at all levels of environmental  & conservation governance to enforce the laws, rules and ordinances that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we walk upon and the myriad organisms that share our natural world with us
Part 1, Introduction to PEER 10 minutes
Part 2.  PEER on the Cape Wind project. 4 minutes
Part 3. PEER & Maine. Sears Island to DEP under Aho. 11 minutes 
Part 4. PEER, Municipal & Native American govts, to End. 5min sec.

Learn how Bennett and others protected Sears Island from Angus King and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway from then-legislatorJohn Martin's dirty politics in the 1990s,  How they braved the furious slings and arrows of well meaning green energy supporters, by standing up for government bird scientists whose warnings of very high density seasonal bird migrations through the area proposed for the Cape Wind  project off Cape Cod were being suppressed;  

PEER is presently hearing from  oppressed staff of Maine's Department of Environmental Protection,  that life under petroleum industry lobbyist turned Maine DEP commissioner Patricia Aho, is in the words of one of them  "A living hell".

We've got global warning enough without DEP rules going up in smoke adding to it. PEER fights for the right of honest officials at all levels of environmental governance to enforce the laws, rules and ordinances that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we walk upon and the myriad organisms that make up our natural world.

Jan 24, 2015

Rockweed! Maine's top seaweed activist to describe the future of this irreplaceable live habitat. February 4th Belfast Free Library 6pm

Rockweed researcher Robin Hadlock Seeley to speak February 4th, 6pm, at the Belfast Free Library, 3rd floor meeting room. Free & open to all.

BELFAST. Every low tide, thousands of tidy piles of olive green rockweed lay anchored at rest atop Belfast Bay's (and almost all of Maine's) myriad intertidal ledges, piers and other hard surfaces. 

They arise with each incoming tide into six foot high marine groves teeming with fish, birds and invertebrates, then collapse once more with each outgoing tide, again becoming living pockets of seawater dotting a temporarily dry landscape.

But according to Dr Robin Hadlock-Seeley, a 5th generation Mainer and Cornell University marine scientist at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, the decline of most traditional Maine coast fisheries has brought increased pressure to cut and process this brown algae into sellable seaweed meal, fertilizer and alginates.Yet the State of Maine's regulations on harvesting Rockweed are weak,

 On February 4th, 6pm, Dr. Hadlock-Seeley will be guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Friends of Penobscot Bay  at Belfast Free Library's 3rd floor meeting room
She will describe the ecological importance of rockweed, the status of state and federal regulations on commercial cutting of this seaweed, more than a decade of efforts by the Rockweed Coalition to improve them, new legislation, and a plan to preserve intertidal habitat in Maine and protect rockweed beds from industrial-scale cutting.  The meeting is free and open to all.

Robin Hadlock-Seeley also assisted in the development of the “Rockweed Registry",which allows landowners to register their shores as no-cut areas.  Link to Rockweed registry form (pdf). Local governments, including the Passamaquoddy Tribe, have joined in placing their tidal shoreland off limits to commercial seaweed cutting.

Come to the Belfast Free Library February 4th at 6pm and learn about this critical part of our bay's, our coast's ecology and how you can make a difference, from Maine's top rockweed expert, Dr. Robin Hadlock Seeley.  This event is free and open to all.

The Belfast Free Library is located at 106 High Street, Belfast, ME 04915.

For more information, contact Friends of Penobscot Bay at 593-2744 or coastwatch@gmail.com

Friends of Penobscot Bay: People who care bout Maine's Biggest Bay.

Jan 17, 2015

Searsport planning board hears auto junk steel export plan by Grimmel

Grimmel Industries shredder and exporter of junked automobiles, has a very spotty record in its previous location in New Hampshire. See here and here and here.  The company made its pitch at the January 12, 2015 meeting of the Searsport Planning Board.  Taking many questions from the board, which then heard from Friends of Penobscot Bay, from John Hamer  an attorney representing several shore businesses - he also supplied the board with EPA files on Grimmel's poor record in New Hampshire -, and other members of the public. NOTE: audio is choppy from poor broadband. Sorry!

Introduction  3 min

Grimmel Presentation & Q&A 31 min

Public 1 John Hamer ,atty. 12 min 22sec

Public 2  Ron Huber FOPB   5min 45 sec     FOPB comments (pdf)

Public 3 Peter Taber. 15min 40sec

Public 4   AJ 3min 45 sec

Public 5  Jay Economy 8 min

Public 6  Harlan McLaughlin  3min

Public 7  Tara Hollander  1min 15 sec

Public 8 Peter Wilkinson  4min 25sec

Public 9 Meredith Ares. 2min 48sec

Public 11. Close of public hearing Pt 1_Board_summation 3min 15sec

Public 12 Close of hearing Pt 2_site visits_Hamer_v_Pboard. 6min 22sec

Jan 14, 2015

GAC Chemical promises to do the right thing(s)! At least some of them.

GAC Chemical has agreed, after 15 years of pressure,  to clean up a sulfur waste site that Maine DEP says may be responsible for significant acidification of Penobscot Bay.  Quick look at two maps. More  below the cross sections of the eroding waste buried next to the old sulfur factory and of the slope to be remediated. More to come

GAC will also trim back and stabilize the eroding shoreline   immediately below the old acid pile. FOPB will be awarding GAC and their consultant CES Certificates of Environmental leadership for their efforts. 

Grim(mel) situation: Industrial Polluter forced out of Portsmouth trying to locate in Searsport

Read all about it. A shredded auto exporter is trying to set up an export facility within Sprague Energy's property on Mack Point in Searsport.

But Grimmell Industries has a horrendous record of poisoning the Piscataqua with tainted runoff from its autocrap export dock in Portsmouth, and of repeated fires in its inland Maine auto shredding facility.

Here's the back story and present situation, from CLF  sources and from a number of media sources. It was CLF's successful pressure on EPA  to deal with Grimmel Industries violations at the mouth of the Piscataqua River shared by Baine and New Hampshire, that has brought the company to Searsport

CLF is "cleaning up Industrial Pollution in Portsmouth  
"CLF has been working to eliminate illegal, toxic stormwater pollution from Grimmel Industries’ massive scrap-metal operation located on the banks of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth.  The  New Hampshire  Pease Development Authority (PDA) last week,  refused to renegotiate a lease with Grimmel, instead requiring the operation to be cleaned up and off the property by the end of this year.

Three Media stories: Republican Journal, Bangor Daily News and Lewiston Sun Journal


Searsport grants junkyard license to Grimmel

SEARSPORT — Selectmen Jan. 7 approved the application of Grimmel Industries LLC to operate a junkyard on leased property from Sprague Energy.
The company will next appear Jan. 12 before the town's Planning Board.
Grimmel General Manager Tim Garrity said steel will be exported through the port to locations around the world. The softball-sized steel will be trucked in from the company's Topsham location and will come from shredded automobiles as well as purchases of scrap from dealers and leftover scraps from Bath Iron Works, he said. The steel will be piled on an existing cement pad before it is loaded for shipping with a grapple.
"There's a little noise but it's nothing special," Garrity said of the operation.
However, noise was a concern mentioned repeatedly by Selectman Meredith Ares. She inquired about the expected decibel level, noting sound travels further over water than land. Selectman Chairman Aaron Fethke said noise is an issue for the Planning Board. Garrity said he did not have decibel levels available but would be happy to provide them if the Planning Board wishes.
Ares was later successful in her bid to limit the hours during which ships are loaded, adding a condition to the license approval that will cease loading vessels at 7 p.m. year-round. While the original application stated loading of vessels could continue until sunset, Garrity accepted the condition as a compromise, he said. Ares noted her concerns are for other tourist-oriented businesses on which evening noise could prove detrimental.
Another concern voiced by Ares and several residents addressed contamination of the property and water. Yardarm Motel owner McCormack Economy said she receives regular complaints from her guests about late-night noise coming from Sprague, despite efforts to block noise.
"I've never complained about this before," Economy said. " ... Noise is a problem."
She also said she is worried about potential issues with dust drifting toward the motel based on reports of dust problems with the company's Portsmouth, N.H., location.
According to previously published reports, Pease Development Authority declined to renew a contract with Grimmel and requested the company cease operations and clean up its 3-acre site on Piscataqua River before the end of 2014.
The development authority and Grimmel originally entered into a contract in Portsmouth in 2002. In 2011, the company was ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to stop allowing runoff into the river.
According to EPA documents, “ … stormwater discharges from Grimmel's metal scrapyard operation contain metals, suspended solids and chemical oxygen demand which exceed permit benchmarks. Further the stormwater discharges contain mercury and PCBs …” The state of New Hampshire issued a warning to limit consumption of salt water fish as well as lobster, according to the EPA.
Several residents spoke to environmental concerns, again citing reports and EPA fines against the company.
"If it happens here, what is the remedy?" asked resident Peter Tabor.
Garrity said the company was not fully responsible for contamination of Piscataqua River as the site was originally developed in the 1950s and located extremely close to the water. He said Grimmel will be operating under the stormwater plan Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved for Sprague and the addition of Grimmel to the plan has already received DEP approval. Sprague representative Jim Therriault said the arrangements in Searsport will be much different than in Portsmouth, including a retention pond for any runoff. Therriault noted there will be an environmental consultant at Monday's Planning Board meeting to further address specific questions.
The Planning Board meets Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting will be streamed online at http://townhallstreams.com/locations/searsport-me.

Bangor Daily NewsJuly 6, 2013 

Cause of Topsham rail car fire remains undetermined . .. Sunday’s blaze was the seventh fire in less than two decades at the scrap metal recycling plant, at the site of the former Pejepscot paper mill on the Androscoggin River.

Lewiston Sun Journal:  
. . . . The Topsham site has been plagued with fires, including several notable burns. A 1995 fire that caused more than $1 million in damages was determined to be arson.
A July 2004 inferno drew firefighters from 17 departments to a three-alarm fire that destroyed several buildings. Investigators said the flames were so hot that the cause could not be determined, according to the Sun Journal.


Jan 11, 2015

Fundy Baykeeper talk & Q&A recordings from Friends of Penobscot Bay meeting, January 7, 2015, Belfast.

Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper
On January 7, 2015, Matthew Abbott, the Fundy Baykeeper, came from St Stephens New Brunswick to  Penobscot Bay to speak at  the monthly meeting of the Friends of Penobscot Bay at the Belfast Free Library. Matt described his job and the various ways a Penobscot Baykeeper could take form.  A lively hour long discussion followed.

Matt spoke for 11 minutes, followed by an hour of questions, answers and discussion with a standing-room-only audience in the library's 3rd floor meeting room.

Matt's talk 11 minutes   (more audio below photo)

Steve Tanguay points to Searsport Hbr planned dredging.
QA1 11 minutes
QA2, 10 minutes
QA3 10 minutes
QA4 7minutes 
QA5  8 minutes 
QA6  6 minutes
QA7 to end. 7 min
Full 69 minute talk
Ron Huber announces environmental leadership award to GAC Chemical for planning a cleanup.
Full 70 minute mp3 of 1/7/15  FOPB meeting
Matthew Abbot, Fundy Baykeeper, at Searsport Harbor, ME 1/7/15. Sears Island & Mack Pt in backgrd

Meeting photos by Peter Taber /// Outdoor photo by Ron Huber

Jan 6, 2015

Habitat Areas of Particular Concern - AUDIO from a 1/5/15 webinar by NEFMC

Here are four Mainers who spoke during the public comment period of the New England Fishery Management Council's January 5th webinar-style public hearing on its "Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2"


Richard Alvin (lobsters), 
Genevieve Kulik Macdonald (lobsters), 
Ron Huber (inshore Juvenile cod) 
Robin Hadlock Seeley (inshore juvenile cod)
Full  webinar audio 49 min

Jan 5, 2015

This Week: Penobscot Bay/Maine Coast Needs YOU. Tues eve Brewer. Wed eve Belfast

Important things are coming up this week, Maine saltwater fish habitat-wise. Penobscot Bay and all of the Gulf of Maine could benefit by your presence - actual and/or virtual! Your choice!   
In reverse order:
January 7th.  FOPB's monthly meeting Belfast Library 6-7:30.  Briefing by Maine Ocean Acidification Commission leader Mick Devin, state legislator from Newcastle, on the recommendations of that commission, followed by Fundy Baykeeper Matthew Abbott from New Brunswick, Canada on the Canadian Keeper experience and on organizing a Penobscot Baykeeper program. Plus a GAC Chemical update.

* January 6th  New federal rules to protect habitat of inshore juvenile cod. Brewer,  6:00 - 8:00PM
Location Jeff's Catering and Event Center, 15 Littlefield Road,Brewer, ME 207.989.1811 
WHAT.  Public hearing on new federal fish habitat protections for all of New England's coastal and offshore fishes. See map of proposed and existing habitat protection areas  (Orange and Green sites are the new ones)

Of particular interest for Penobscot Bay protectors is the Inshore Juvenile Atlantic Cod Habitat Area of Particular Concern (4 page excerpt from above document. pdf) This "HAPC" will include the entire New England coast running parallel to the shore in a shallow ribbon from the low tide line to either the 10 meter (32 foot) or 20 meter (65 foot) depth contourDescription of this habitat area- both alternatives   See also  NOAA report "Impacts to Marine Fisheries Habitat from Nonfishing Activities in the Northeastern United States"

What to tell the New England Fishery Management Council at the meeting
1.  Our coastal cod's inshore young need specific types of shallow three dimensional habitat to survive their first year.
2. Their prey species also have specific habitat needs.
3. There are both fishery based impacts and land based impacts to these habitats.
4. Fishery management can and has been reducing gear impacts to juvenile cod habitat.  
5. Land-based impacts to inshore juvenile cod habitat have multiple sources, and occur at different intensities at different seasons and locations.
6. While the Council prefers the 20 meter contour as the outer edge of the HAPC, we believe going out to the 10 meter contour will provide sufficient protections for Age Zero cod and be more easy for non fishing citizens to understand and be involved in. One possible alternative is for landbased impact reviews to go out to the 10 meter contour, while fishery impacts to this HAPC to go out to the 20 meter contour. 

WHAT TO DO. Tell the officials at the meeting: Maine will need to prepare.  
For this Inshore Juvenile Atlantic Cod Habitat Area of Particular Concern to be a useful part of the fish habitat protection toolbox, the habitat has to be profiled and state environmental agencies must be trained in how to include consideration of this HAPC in their reviews of coastal discharger licenses, dredging plans and coastal development applications. Friends of Penobscot Bay supports this HAPC and makes the following recommendations.

* Map and evaluate the existing habitat quality within their Inshore Juvenile Cod HAPC areas.  FOPB will be doing this by towing video cameras along the 10 meter contours of Penobscot Bay to get baseline documentation along the centerline of this HAPC.
* Locate & rate the intensity of known and likely future land-based impacts to this HAPC. 
* Provide training to state environmental agency staff, who will be tasked to refer Inshore Juvenile Cod HAPC concerns to federal officials.
* Provide training materials for coastal municipal planning boards to help them understand the Juvenile Cod Habitat Area of Particular Concern within their towns' waters.

GAC CHEMICAL - The VRAP plan means that the company will finally embark on ending the erosion of its wastes into Stockton harbor.     See map of remediation site.  and thenThey will remove sulfur buried next to the shore  trim back and stabilize the eroding shoreline immediately below the old acid pile.  This is only a first step. FOPB will have to guide them along the way to continue this remediation along the rest of their shore.But let's give them an award for doing SOMETHING!

Penobscot Bay's, Maine's, shallow cod habitat getting new federal protection. Federal meetings Jan 5, 6, 7th.

Brewer. The New England Fishery Management Council  will hold 3 meetings in Maine on January 5th, 6th and 7th on important new federal regulations protecting the habitat of juvenile coastal cod and other marine fish  from pollution, coastal sprawl and inappropriate fishing tech.

January 5th meeting is a webinar  from 3pm - 5pm.  Register: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/278328207
Call in info: Toll: +1 (646) 307-1706; Access Code: 911-628-108

January 6th from 6-8pm  at Jeff’s Catering and Event Center in Brewer; January 7th, 6-8pm at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. 

The new  regulations map out a Habitat Area of Particular Concern for Inshore Juvenile Atlantic Cod, extending like a ribbon along the entire New England coast. Beginning at the low tide line, that zone goes out to the 20 meter (66 feet) depth contour. (Area in blue in map)  The regulation lists land-based activities that can harm juvenile cod or their prey in this shallow zone, and sets up a process allowing the community to restrict such activities when needed.  



Both the Gulf of Maine offshore fishing grounds and 

extending along the entgire new England coast everything canyons of eastern Georges Bank. 

January 5th's meeting will be a webinar from 3pm - 5pm. Anyone who can't make it to Brewer  or Portland, can attend  the online briefing  by Michell Bachman of the New England Fishery Management Council and others over the internet or the phone
Webinar Monday, January 5, 2015

Brewer, ME Tuesday, January 6, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Jeff’s Catering and Event Center
15 Littlefield Road
Brewer, ME 04412; Phone: (207) 989-1811

Portland, Maine Wednesday, January 7, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn by the Bay
88 Spring Street
Portland, ME 04101; Phone: (207) 775-2311


Clamming & lobstering interests were there, and the hookers, harpooners, draggers, gillers and seiners of Maine's finfisheries. A handful of conservation ENGOs and journalists too.
Listen below to Michelle Bachmann, habitat coordinator, New England Fishery Management Council, describe Omnibus Groundfish Habitat Amendment 2 and its implications for all New England fisheries.  

NEFMC on new coastal habitat protection rules 

Impacts to Marine Fish Habitat from Nonfishing Activities in the Northeastern United States

Impacts to Marine Fisheries Habitat from Nonfishing Activities in the Northeastern United States.2008 NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-209

Preface and Introduction
Chapter One:  Technical Workshop on Impacts to Coastal Fisheries Habitat from Nonfishing Activities
Chapter Two:  Coastal Development
Chapter Three:  Energy-related Activities
Chapter Four: Alteration of Freshwater Systems
Chapter Five: Marine Transportation
Chapter Six: Offshore Dredging and Disposal Activities
Chapter Seven: Chemical Effects—Water Discharge Facilities
Chapter Eight:  Physical Effects—Water Intake and Discharge Facilities
Chapter Nine: Agricultures and Silviculture
Chapter Ten: Introduced/Nuisance Species and Aquaculture
Chapter Eleven: Global Effects and Other Impacts
Chapter Twelve: Compensatory Mitigation
Conclusions and Recommendations

Appendix: Attendees of Technical Workshop on Impacts to Coastal Fishery Habitat from Nonfishing Activities

This document is also available as a 339 page pdf