Trident Seadoods agreed to pay USD 2.5 million for the alleged dump of fish waste. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Trident accepts to pay multi-millionaire fine
Thursday, September 29, 2011, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Seafood processing giant Trident Seafoods Corp will pay a USD 2.5 million civil penalty and invest millions in seafood processing waste controls to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced.
The Seattle, Washington-based company’s unauthorized discharges of seafood processing waste into Alaskan waters resulted in large seafood waste piles on the seafloor, which created oxygen-depleted conditions that killed marine life.
The case addresses 15 of the company’s 20 onshore and offshore facilities in Alaska.
“Today’s settlement is truly a ‘game changer’,” said Dennis McLerran, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Trident is definitely changing course and seriously investing in waste management and increased fish meal plant capacity.”
“We’re establishing a new 'best management practices' yardstick for Alaska’s seafood processing industry,” he continued.
Trident will have to invest roughly USD 30 million - USD 40 million and possibly more in source control and waste pile remediation measures. The former measures include building a fishmeal plant in Naknek, Alaska, that will have the capacity to handle at least 30 million lb of seafood processing waste annually -- both its own and potentially that of other local processors.
Trident will also reduce the waste discharged from the Akutan, Cordova, St Paul and Ketchikan facilities and monitor the amount of waste discharged into Starrigavan Bay in Sitka. These actions will cut Trident’s fish processing discharges by more than 105 million lb annually.
The company has also agreed to remediation measures including studying seafloor waste piles at some of its facilities. Based on the results of these studies, Trident will remove or partially remediate the piles.
EPA’s complaint says Trident had more than 480 CWA violations at 14 of its on-shore and off-shore Alaskan plants.
These alleged violations include discharging without a necessary permit, exceeding discharge limits, failing to comply with permit restrictions on discharge locations (including discharges into at least two National Wildlife Refuges), creating oxygen-depleting “zones of deposit” or underwater piles of fish processing waste occupying more than the allowed 1 ac of seafloor. Trident also allegedly failed to conduct required monitoring and implement required best management practices.
In the past 10 years, Trident has been involved in various administrative enforcement agreements and judicial consent decrees resolving similar violations at many of the same facilities.
"Trident's facilities have had a long history of noncompliance," said Tara Martich, permit coordinator with the EPA, Seattle Times reports. "We know through monitoring that the company's piles are still there sometimes decades later."
The settlement was lodged in federal court in Seattle and is subject to a 30-day public comment period.
By Natalia Real