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  • Allison Stalker

Large Seafood Company Receives Major EPA Fines

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced yesterday an agreement with Trident Seafoods Corp. in response to numerous alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Trident has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty along with investing millions in seafood processing waste controls.


The violations were alleged on the 20 production facilities in Alaska. These plants process various seafood including salmon, herring, cod, and crab into fillets and meat. After removing meat, the resulting bones and scraps are spun into a centrifuge where small particles of protein escape from the screen and are discharged into the water.


This is where the problem lies. These tiny bits of protein settle to the sea floor, covering it in layers of fish paste. Microbes then feed on the protein and use all the available oxygen, creating a dead zone for other fish and marine organisms. Some of these piles are up to 90 acres large.


“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.”


Along with the penalty fine, Trident will invest $30-40 million in source control and remediation measures. This includes building a fishmeal plant in Naknek and reducing seafood processing waste discharged from other plants in Alaska. These measures will reduce Trident’s discharged by more than 105 million pounds a year.


Trident will also study seafloor waste piles and will be responsible for removing or partially remediating the piles. The EPA complaint included more than 480 CWA violations including 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 one acre of seafloor. The company also allegedly failed to conduct required monitoring and implement required best management practices.


“This agreement will benefit the quality of Alaskan waters, which host a critical habitat for the seafood industry,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The upgrades will enable Trident to achieve and maintain compliance with the Clean Water Act, and will protect Alaskan waters, eliminate waste and create efficiencies that will serve as a model of best business practices for the seafood processing industry.”


To gain more information on the settlement, click here.


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