In his order dated January 17, Judge Reeve Kelsey, sided with AquaBounty and the town of Pioneer against county commissioners on the issue of easement access for water lines essential for constructing the genetically modified (GM) salmon farming facility.
The local county commissioners had previously rejected the waterline installation request, citing concerns over their location in a governmental right of way and debating their status as a public utility.
In response to this legal hurdle, Pioneer officials and AquaBounty established a new public utility in May, encompassing raw water and wastewater/stormwater transmission for multiple purposes, including fire protection and to provide an additional water source for the village.
Judge Kelsey, in his ruling, recognized Pioneer’s water and wastewater transmission lines as a public utility that would significantly improve fire safety in the area. He found the commissioners’ decision unsupported by substantial evidence, ordering a reversal and approval of the water lines. He also noted that the wastewater discharged by AquaBounty would comply with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Despite this legal progress, the timeline for completing AquaBounty’s ambitious project remains uncertain. The land-based salmon company’s Ohio project, aimed at producing 10,000 metric tons of salmon annually, remains paused due to cost reassessments, with $140 million of the projected $485-495 million spent.