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Haida group dumps man behind ocean fertilization

Yellow and brown colours show relatively high concentrations of chlorophyll off the coast of Haida Gwaii in August, 2012, after iron sulphate was dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a controversial geoengineering scheme.

Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center/NASA

Russ George has been dumped by the small Haida organization for which he designed a controversial ocean fertilization project last year.

In a statement released on Thursday, Haida Salmon Restoration Corp. (HSRC) said it has "removed" Mr. George as a director of the company. "In addition, the HSRC has terminated Mr. George's employment as an officer of the corporation," it states.

Mr. George could not be reached for comment. The California businessman is a proponent of the theory that global warming can be blunted and ocean acidification stopped by fertilizing the ocean with iron.

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The Haida organization made international headlines several months ago, when it dumped more than 100 tonnes of an iron substance into the ocean off Haida Gwaii in an attempt to stimulate plankton growth.

The HSRC hoped to recover its investment through increased salmon harvests and through selling carbon credits by demonstrating that the iron grew massive clouds of plankton that sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere.

But the experiment, which was not sanctioned by any official body and lacked the involvement of recognized ocean scientists, was widely condemned by researchers, the federal government and the United Nations.

The UN's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission raised alarms, stating that "the science is uncertain."

Environment Canada launched an investigation, citing concerns about possible pollution violations.

The HSRC statement on Mr. George made no direct reference to the dumping controversy, but said a review of the company's governance and business plans is under way.

"The board and our community has decided to recalibrate this business so that it moves forward in a constructive fashion and effectively responds to legitimate concerns raised by various stakeholders around the world," said Ken Rea, a spokesman for the Old Massett Village Council, which provided $2.5-million for the HSRC ocean experiment.

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"We realize that we need to take a step back and review the direction of the company," HSRC president and interim CEO John Disney said.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More

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