Alarms were ringing Tuesday after 15,000 liters of chlorine leaked from a fish farm into the Alta Fjord in Northern Norway. An estimated 96,000 salmon were poisoned by the chlorine at the Grieg Seafood plant, and environmentalists were worrying about the effects on both the fjord and the wild salmon in one of Norway’s most famed salmon rivers.
“Having a salmon farm so close to the mouth of the Alta River, inside a national salmon fjord, is like playing Russian roulette,” claimed Vegard Ludvigsen, leader of a local salmon fishing organization. He questioned the location of the salmon fishing operation, which was initially established by a local family who later sold it to Grieg Seafood. Its stock fell on the Oslo Stock Exchange after the accident became known.
Police and officials from Norway’s food safety authority Mattilsynet were at the scene Tuesday, also to help determine how to discard the roughly 400 tons of dead fish poisoned by the chorine. It’s used to disinfect the water used in salmon production. The cause of the leak was unclear. State broadcaster NRK reported that emergency personnel determined there was no danger of any chlorine gas to the public.
“We have had the plant for 35 years and never experienced anything like this before,” Roger Pedersen of Grieg Seafood told NRK. Ludvigsen was not reassured. He was concerned about the impact of the leak on the fjord and thinks it’s necessary to reevaluate whether fish farming should be allowed so close to the mouth of the Alta River.