Cause of Failed Closed Containment System Being Probed


Cause of failed closed containment project to be probed

Canada: A power failure that caused the death of some 12,000 Atlantic salmon in a land-based tank farm in Eastern Canada is described by the company as “an extremely unusual sequence of events”

Odd Grydeland

In a 2012 article in the Huffington Post by Sue Scott- VP of Communications for the Eastern Canada conservation group The Atlantic Salmon Federation- she explains that “A partnership between The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute of West Virginia and the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a conservation organization with headquarters in St. Andrews NB, is producing healthy, unstressed farmed salmon, free of disease and sea lice, without vaccines, harsh chemicals, and antibiotics in closed-containment freshwater facilities on land. The goal is to give fish farmers and regulators the opportunity to choose a different way to grow fish that is, not only better for the environment but better for business, too”.

News came last month that the business case for the company “Sustainable Fish Farming (Canada) Ltd” took a major hit when all of its closed-containment raised, harvest-ready farmed Atlantic salmon died due to some sort of failure of the electricity-supply system. As Gordon Delaney of the Chronicle Herald reports, the company is now asking police to investigate the cause of the power failure;

Police are investigating a power failure that killed about 12,000 salmon — almost $350,000 (~€238,000) worth — at a land-based fish farm in Hants County last month. “We are conducting an investigation,” provincial RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) spokesman Sgt. Alain LeBlanc confirmed in an interview Tuesday. Officials from Sustainable Fish Farming (Canada) Ltd. contacted the RCMP on March 22, a week after a catastrophic power failure March 15, LeBlanc said.

The nearly market-ready salmon, totaling 30,000 kilograms, were killed in the six-hour power outage at the aquaculture site in Centre Burlington, near Brooklyn, Hants County. “However, it’s important to say that, at this time, there is no evidence to support or to suggest that this was a criminal act,” LeBlanc said. “The company reached out to us. We, in consultation with the company, are trying to determine what caused the power failure.” He said the general investigation unit of the Windsor District RCMP is handling the file.

Kirk Havercroft, CEO of the company, said that as part of the investigation, several simulations were run in the plant to determine the cause of the outage. “One of those simulations … was basically to assume what would happen if somebody deliberately turned off a key piece of equipment,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “When we ran that simulation it did reproduce all of the incidents that occurred on the night of the problem,” he added. So police were called. “As of yet, there is no direct evidence that would suggest that somebody did it, other than to say that the simulation that we ran fit the events of that night.”

He added it’s important to understand what caused the incident so there won’t be a repeat as the company moves forward. RCMP investigators have been to the site. All three principals in the business — Havercroft, President Jeremy Lee and partner John Charlton — have given police statements. The $350,000 loss was not insured and was a major blow to the new company, which was trying to prove the validity of its land-based salmon farming system. Havercroft said the operation had “an extremely robust” electrical system with three backup levels. The blackout was an extremely unusual sequence of events, “unlike anything I’ve experienced in my 25 years in the business.”

The lost salmon would have been the first raised in a land-based contained farm system in the province. They were close to market size and would have been ready for delivery this month or next. Despite the setback, company officials are convinced that their system for raising salmon is a commercially viable one. The business has approximately 30,000 salmon fry in its hatchery that were unaffected by the power failure. “That’s our route forward with the business,” Havercroft said. “We’ve basically gone from a salmon-growing operation to a hatchery operation. All that’s happened is that it’s put us back by about 15 months. “But we saw enough on that first trial, which unfortunately we lost, to recognize that this works … and we’re going to keep going,” he said.

The company has redesigned some of the critical control, monitoring and alarm systems “to protect ourselves against anything like this ever happening again,” he added. It’s also considering mortality insurance on the next batch of salmon.

Published: 16.04.14 kl 06:25