Trident Seafoods Fined $25,000 for Fuel Spill in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay

Trident Seafoods fish processor vessel Aleutian Falcon. Image: Trident Seafoods.

Washington State’s Department of Ecology has fined Trident Seafoods Corp. $25,000 for a February 2021 hydraulic oil spill into Tacoma’s Commencement Bay following a fire onboard Trident’s fish processor Aleutian Falcon.

Trident is being fined for spilling oil, water negligence and not properly reporting a vessel emergency.

According to a Department of Ecology report issued in mid-January, the Aleutian Falcon caught fire while docked for maintenance. Repair work ignited a wooden bulkhead and other materials. As the fire spread, hydraulic hoses on a crane were damaged, causing an estimated 20 to 30 gallons of hydraulic oil, mixed with firefighting water, to spill to the Hylebos Waterway.

The spill was contained by a boom surrounding the vessel. The state report said other hazardous material and potential pollutants on the vessel were either consumed in the blaze or successfully removed.

No one was on board the vessel at the time and no injuries were reported.

Investigators said the scope of the repair work was not adequately communicated between workers, supervisors and officials ahead of time, and that while at work, crews did not take proper precautions or follow national standards that would have prevented the fire.

They also said Trident did not report the vessel emergency within an hour of the onset of the fire, as required by law and the company’s spill contingency plan.

Even though there were no reported impacts to wildlife, Department of Ecology officials have said that oil and refined oil products are acutely toxic and even small amounts can severely injure or impair mammals, fish, birds and other animals, while adversely impacting habitat wildlife depends on for survival.

Spill penalty proceeds support grants issued by the Department of Ecology to public agencies and non-profit entities for environmental restoration.

Trident has the option of appealing the fine to the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.