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Opinion: Frenchman Bay, One of the Cleanest Bays in the World, is Fast Becoming One of the Dirtiest

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

By Jim O'Connell

December 30, 2021


Viewpoint: The cleanliness of the air we breathe and climate issues call for the immediate elimination of burning diesel, especially for fun (cruise ships) or for using an unbelievable amount growing salmon as proposed by Norwegian American Aquafarms.

Idling laws are enforced and becoming stricter every year. (See Google search results at bottom for required distance from schools and populated areas.)

We have the necessary grounds for calling these unhealthy dieseling industries out, scientifically and legally, and when push comes to shove, we will all likely come to the conclusion that growing 6 million fish using 14 million pounds (2 million gallons) of diesel to harvest 6 million 10-pound salmon every year is stupid.

So is riding on the back of the biggest internal combustion engine for the thrill of conquering the sea. Burning diesel for fun, cruise ships will be the first to go. In port, they burn four times as much as cargo ships. The world necessity for transporting cargo goods will be the last diesel holdout.

Ultimately, American Aquafarms must burn 2 million gallons of shipping diesel per year – 8.76 times the volume of dirty diesel fuel as all the seasonal hoteling cruise ships anchoring in Frenchman Bay – the equivalent sulfur dioxide emissions as 16,500 idling semi trucks parked in the middle of Frenchman Bay year-round.

The worst case

A maximum 5,500 passenger day in Bar Harbor, which would be producing 15 MW to hotel at anchor while the fish farm produces its 5 MW for a total of 20 MW. Fifty gallons an hour per MW means 1,000 gallons per hour – 66,000 semis worth of sulfur dioxide! That would be 200 rows of semis bumper to bumper from Hancock Point 4 miles to the Porcupine Islands. That would equate to 800-plus miles of 70-foot semi trucks bumper to bumper from Bar Harbor to the North Carolina border! All idling at 1 gallon per hour using on-land 15 ppm diesel.

American Aquafarms, owned by Norwegian investors, specifies they need to pump 90 cubic meters of salt water per second.

Last fall, when asked directly how many MW they needed to run their operation in the bay, they said about 1 to 1 1/2 MW.

They stated recently that they will be running ten 500 Kw generators at 90 percent capacity on the bay. That is 5 MW! Most of which is used to pump 2 billion gallons of water per day.

Two billion gallons per day!

1 cubic meter = 264 gallons

90 cm per second as specified x 264 gallons = 23,760 gallons per second. Divided by 180 pumps = 132 gallons per second per pump. 60 seconds x 132 = 7,920 gallons per min, 60 min x 7,920 = 475,200 gallons/hour, 24 hours x 475,200 = 11 million gallons per day per pump.

180 pumps x 11 million gallons per day = 2 billion gallons/day.

The most energy you can get from a gallon of diesel is 40 kw/hour. However, 50 percent of that potential energy is used running the engine that turns the electric generator so we can only get 20 kw/hour from 1 gallon. Fifty gallons per/hour will get you 50 x 20 = 1,000 kw/hour, which is 1 MW/hour.

Each MW requires 50 gallons per hour and they claim they are going to have this 1,000 ppm marine gas oil shipped from Searsport.

American Aquafarms has on its permit application they need 10, 500 Kw diesel electric generators. 5 MW total. They will require 250 gallons of fuel per hour. 6,000 gallons per day. They will use a whole 10,000 gallon semi tanker truck in less than two days. Roenes said they will buy and ship MGO from Searsport. I think he meant to truck it but perhaps they have a huge fuel oil tank over in Prospect that a tanker ship can pull up to.

A year of 250 gallons per day of 1,000 ppm MGO diesel ends up at 2,136,000 gallons of inexpensive 1,000 ppm MGO, marine gas oil. Per year. MGO is popular because it has 1,000 ppm or less sulfur emissions and ships can use it without scrubbing out the excess sulfur. Above 1,000 ppm is outlawed out to 200 miles from the coast. It’s called the Emissions Control Area (ECA).

Sulfur dioxide is one of the deadly chemicals that has a particularly bad effect on asthmatics. An asthmatic attack can kick in at one-fifth of one part in a million.  

There was a persistent cluster of attacks in Roxbury, Boston. Subsequently a $2,500 fine for each of 242, 15 ppm five-minute idling violations was collected from the Paul Revere Bus Company. Some buses were said to have been idling over 2 hours at most.

American Aquafarms plans on emitting the equivalent SO2 as 16,500 idling buses. 24/7 year-round, all year long.

Idling 15 ppm trucks are generally prohibited within 1,000 feet of residential areas and schools. (See Google search below.)

Based on the EPA guide shown below, 1,000 ppm should need 66 times that distance for a concentrated plume to disperse. It should be deemed unsafe closer than 66,000 feet or 12.5 miles. However, American Aquafarms fish farm is 3 miles from Bar Harbor, Winter Harbor and Sorrento. That is unsafe by EPA standards by four times.

Comparing yearly SO2 emissions from the proposed 5 MW American Aquafarms fish farm together with the seasonal cruise ship industry finds the fish farm is 8.76 times dirtier.

The average cruise ship SO2 emissions rate per hour, for their 10 hour per day visit, during the 100-day cruise ship season burning 1,000 ppm is approximately the same as the fish farms 250 gallons an hour of 1,000 ppm marine gas oil sulfur dioxide emissions.

The fish farm runs 356 days per year; the cruise ships, 100 days for 10 hours per day. The ships = 1,000 total hours per year. The fish farm will emit 24/7, 365 days per year. 8,760 hours, 8.76 times as much as the seasonal, deadly fumigating cruise ship plumes. We might as well park 16,500 idling semi trucks all year on Frenchman Bay. At 70 feet, that would be 218 miles bumper to bumper. The inner Frenchman Bay is 4 miles long from Hancock Point to the Porcupines.

Picture 50 rows of idling semi trucks each 4 miles long. Idling sulfur dioxide all year long.

Now add another 50 rows to breathe during the 100 days of cruise ships in the summer season. 436 miles of idling 70-foot semi trucks bumper to bumper. 

Probably the most polluted bay in the USA  

At $2,500 per 5-minute 15 ppm violation, we are talking of a fine of 8760 x 12 x $2,500 x 66, which is a $17 billion dollar fine per year for the fish farm.

The cruise ships at 1,000 hours per year should be paying a fine of 1,000 x12 x $2,500 x 66, which is 2 billion dollars per year.

These huge corporate industries, which choose to defy climate change, have signed a contract with the devil. Let’s fine them to hell.

EPA recommendations for sighting schools

CARB’s Air Quality and Land Use Handbook recommends 500 feet (150 m) between busy roadways and sensitive receptor locations, 1,000 feet (300 m) from busy distribution centers and rail yards, and generally downwind of busy ports.

Jim O’Connell, who resides in Bar Harbor, studied mechanical power engineering at the Wentworth Institute of Engineering Technology in Boston.

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