Oregon backs down on terms of proposed processing pollution permit

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has backed down on the terms of a proposed pollution permit for seafood processors in the state, after the last iteration of the permit expired eight years ago, according to the Statesman Journal. 

Since the permit expired, more than a dozen Oregon seafood processors have been operating under an administrative extension as negotiations have taken place. 

The Department of Environmental Quality began regulating the discharges of seafood producers in 1982, in an attempt to crack down on the shells, bones, blood and fish waste as well as chemical byproducts that were being dumped into bodies of water by companies. 

When the department put out the initial version of a proposed permit in spring of last year, politicians representing fishing communities on Oregon’s coast had called the regulations “extreme.”

“In Oregon, seafood processing is a key component of coastal economies and we ask that the state revisit the revision process for the [permit] in a way that supports the success of this critical industry,” state legislators wrote in a letter to the DEQ. 

“While the Coastal Caucus looks to DEQ to maintain high standards of water quality across the state and comply with Clean Water Act requirements and Environmental Protection Agency directives, it is imperative that DEQ work collaboratively with those entities it regulates,” the letter added.

As a result, the DEQ removed proposed new restrictions for temperature, ammonia, chlorine and bacteria, with the reasoning being that the department has not required seafood companies to monitor for those pollutants so there isn’t enough data to set restrictions. In place of limits, the DEQ will set benchmarks. 

The permit covers 18 of the state’s 24 processors, the remainder operate either under individual permits or will apply for individual permits when the general permit is approved.



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