Trident Seafoods Corp. Clean Water Act Settlement
(Washington, DC - September 28, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced that Trident Seafoods Corp., one of the world's largest seafood processors, has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty and invest millions in fish waste controls to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Unauthorized discharges of seafood processing waste lead to large seafood waste piles on the seafloor, creating anoxic, or oxygen-depleted, conditions that result in unsuitable habitats for fish and other living organisms.
On this page:
- Overview of Facility
- Injunctive Relief
- Pollutant Reductions
- Health and Environmental Effects
- Civil Penalty
Overview of Facility
Trident Seafoods Corporation is a seafood processing company that operates over 20 onshore and offshore facilities located throughout Alaska. This case addresses 15 of those facilities.
Trident's seafood processing facilities remain subject to individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and/or the Seafood General Permit, entitled "Seafood Processors in Alaska."
Trident's individual permits, as well as the Seafood NPDES General Permit, contain requirements related to the grinding and discharging of seafood processing waste. The permits, for instance, require seafood processors to grind their seafood processing waste to no greater than half an inch in any dimension and discharge all processing waste through a waste handling system.
The permits include requirements regarding discharges into impaired water bodies and critical habitats, as well as requirements that discharges must occur in water depths of at least sixty feet and over one nautical mile offshore. In addition, the individual permits and Seafood General Permit include specific operation and maintenance, as well as monitoring and reporting, requirements for Trident's seafood processing facilities throughout Alaska.
Between 2005 and 2009, Trident violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) 480 times at fifteen of the company's onshore and offshore facilities. Specifically, Trident discharged pollutants, including seafood processing waste, without an NPDES permit or in violation of its NPDES permit terms and effluent limits. Trident also failed to submit timely, accurate, and complete annual reports; conduct required monitoring; and implement best management practice plans.
Trident will construct a fishmeal plant to recycle seafood processing waste at its facility in Naknek, Alaska. The plant will be operational by June 2015 and capable of handling at least 30 million pounds of seafood processing waste per year. In addition, Trident will construct and operate a small-scale fishmeal plant at its facility in Cordova, Alaska.
Trident will install and operate source reduction techniques to recycle and/or treat the seafood processing waste at five of its facilities, located in Akutan, St. Paul, Ketchikan, Cordova, and Sitka.
Trident must conduct subsequent benthic assessments at these facilities to evaluate the impacts of the source control measures and natural attenuation on the seafood waste piles that have accumulated on the seafloor near Trident's facilities.
Based on the results of the benthic assessments, EPA may require Trident to remove the seafood processing waste piles from the seafloor.
In addition, Trident will cease discharges of all waste streams from its facility in St. Paul, Alaska between May and November each year during the breeding season of the threatened fur seal population.
Trident will spend approximately $30 million on these injunctive relief measures.
Through operation of the fishmeal plants and implementation of source control measures, Trident will eliminate approximately 105 million pounds of seafood processing waste discharges into waters of the United States per year.
Health and Environmental Effects
Trident's unauthorized discharges of seafood processing waste has contributed to the creation of large seafood waste piles on the seafloor in the receiving waters near Trident's seafood processing facilities.
The waste piles cover areas on the seafloor that range in size from one to ninety acres. The zones of deposit lack oxygen and organic material, creating anoxic conditions that limit natural decay and result in unsuitable habitats for fish and other living organisms.
Trident will pay a civil penalty of $2.5 million to the United States within 30 days of the effective date of the settlement.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.
For more information, contact:
Amanda J. Helwig
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (2243A)
Washington, DC 20460