Trident settles with EPA on Clean Water Act violations’

Two federal agencies have reached a settlement with Trident Seafoods over Clean Water Act violations at Sand Point and Wrangell involving discharges of fish waste.

The agreement, announced on March 2, calls for Trident to remove nearly three and a half acres of waste from the seafloor near its Sand Point plant and limits on how much seafood waste is discharged from its Wrangell plant.

Trident also will pay a $297,000 civil penalty and do a comprehensive audit of the company’s system for monitoring environmental compliance, under the agreement reached with the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice.

The Seattle-based processor has operated a fish meal plant at Sand Point since 1996 to help limit how much fish waste is discharged into marine waters.

Yet after decades of processing, the historic waste pile exceeds the one-acre limit, and continues to impair the health of the seafloor, EPA officials said. Unauthorized discharges of seafood processing waste lead to large seafood waste piles that contain bones, shells and other organic materials that accumulate on the seafloor. Those waste piles create anoxic, or oxygen-depleted conditions that result in unsuitable habitat for fish and other living organisms.

The EPA said Trident also committed to installing state-of-the-art filter technology to prevent most solids, including fish tissue, from being released to marine waters when fish are transferred from supply boats to the processing plant.  Trident also agreed to screen out most solid seafood wastes at its Wrangell plant, in order to reduce or eliminate waste discharges to the nearshore marine environment.

Annual dive surveys at both processing plants will monitor the size of any accumulated seafood waste to ensure continued compliance with permit requirements.

EPA officials said they expect these measures to improve water quality and help ensure Trident’s long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.