Seattle — Trident Seafoods Corporation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency have reached an agreement to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act for discharges of fish waste at two seafood processing facilities in Sand Point and Wrangell, Alaska.
Under the agreement, Trident will remove nearly three-and-a-half acres of waste from the seafloor near its Sand Point plant, and limit the amount of seafood waste discharged from its Wrangell plant.
“We are pleased that Trident has committed to removing the waste pile at Sand Point and to continue reducing the amount of seafood waste discharges from its operations,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of the EPA Region 10 Office of Compliance and Enforcement. “This settlement is the result of a productive and successful collaboration with Trident, and will help protect the seafloor, surrounding water quality, and important habitat for a variety of marine life.”[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]Trident has operated a fish meal plant at Sand Point since 1996 to help limit the amount of fish waste discharged to marine waters. Yet after decades of processing, the historic waste pile exceeds the allowable one-acre limit, and continues to impair the health of the seafloor. Unauthorized discharges of seafood processing waste lead to large seafood waste piles which contain bones, shells, and other organic materials that accumulate on the seafloor. Seafood waste piles create anoxic, or oxygen-depleted conditions that result in unsuitable habitats for fish and other living organisms.
In addition to removing the Sand Point waste pile, Trident has committed to installing state-of-the-art filter technology to prevent most solids, including fish tissue, from being released to marine waters when fish are transferred from supply boats to the plant. At the Wrangell plant, Trident has agreed to screen out most solid seafood wastes, which will reduce or eliminate waste discharges to the nearshore marine environment. Annual dive surveys at both processing plants will monitor the size of any accumulated seafood waste to ensure continued compliance with permit requirements. The EPA expects the combination of these measures to improve water quality and help ensure Trident’s long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Trident also agreed to pay a $297,000 civil penalty and to conduct a comprehensive audit of the company’s system for monitoring environmental compliance.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.