EPA fines Alaskan company over seafood waste violations

Published on
July 31, 2017

An Alaska seafood processor has been fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after for violating regulations related to seafood waste.

The EPA announced Wednesday that the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. agreed to pay USD 51,050 (EUR 43,450) after officials uncovered “many violations” in an inspection last year at the Norton Sound Seafood Products plant in Nome.

The violations included a failure to complete all recordkeeping the EPA requires for its discharge permit. EPA inspectors also found the company exceeded the size requirements for seafood processing waste residues and that it did not appropriately monitor its grinders and waste removal system. The company also failed to monitor the sea surface and nearby shoreline, and it did not identify the discharge location and the chemicals used in its tote-washing process.

Seafood processors like Norton Sound must carry discharge permits to protect the waters receiving the waste, which can include bones, fins, shells, and trimmings. The EPA noted tidal and river currents often – but not always – help to dissipate the waste produced by the Norton Sound processing facility.

That waste can accumulate on the surface and shoreline, where it can draw bugs and develop an unpleasant smell. It also can develop in large pools under the surface, which poses a threat to marine life because it can cut off the oxygen supply.

In a statement, the EPA said regular inspections of permitted facilities help level the playing field among seafood processors, keeping companies from establishing an advantage over their competitors that work to abide by federal regulations.

“By properly managing waste and meeting their discharge permit limits, seafood processors can safeguard the marine environment and profit from America’s recognition of seafood as an important part of a healthy diet,” the agency said.

In an email response, the EPA said the fine was the first issued against Norton Sound by the agency. The company planned to make the corrections by this month, which coincides with the start of the processing season. However, the agency has not verified if the corrections have been made.

Norton Sound officials did not return a call for comment. 

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