Trident fined USD 2.5 million by EPA
Trident Seafoods Corp. has agreed to pay a USD 2.5 million civil penalty and invest more than USD 30 million in seafood-processing waste controls to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly announced on Wednesday.
The Seattle-based seafood supplier, one of the United States’ largest, confirmed the agreement it a statement it issued soon thereafter. The settlement was lodged in federal court in Seattle and is subject to a 30-day public-comment period.
The EPA notified Trident in April 2010 that it had violated discharge permit conditions, primarily monitoring and reporting requirements, at many of its Alaska processing facilities.
Joe Plesha, Trident’s chief legal officer, said the violations came as a surprise, adding that the company strives to set the industry standard for environmental compliance. As a result, Trident has restructured its environmental compliance department.
“They are conscientious and detail-oriented,” said Plesha, referring to the new department employees. “We are committed to more routinely training our staff in Alaska, self-auditing our performance and working more closely with the agency to prevent these types of violations from being repeated.”
According to the DOJ and EPA, Trident has agreed to reduce the amount of seafood-processing waste discharged from its Akutan, Cordova, St. Paul and Ketchikan facilities and to monitor the amount of seafood-processing waste discharged into Starrigavan Bay in Sitka, reducing the company’s discharges by a total of more than 105 million pounds annually. The company will study seafloor waste piles near its facilities, and, based on the results, it will remove or partially remove the piles. One pile in Akutan Harbor is estimated to be more than 50 acres in size, claim the DOJ and EPA.
Trident also agreed to invest an estimated USD 30 to 40 million in seafood-processing waste controls, including building a fishmeal plant in Naknek, Alaska, with capacity of at least 30 million pounds of seafood-processing waste annually.
“Today’s settlement signals an important change in how seafood processing is managed in Alaska,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Trident’s investment in fishmeal facilities and commitment to improving its waste-management practices will help protect our nation’s waters and set the standard for Alaska’s seafood processing industry.”
“Today’s settlement is truly a game changer,” added 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 share Trident’s view that this settlement will be better for the environment as well as their bottom line. We’re establishing a new ‘best management practices’ yardstick for Alaska’s seafood processing industry.”