A corporation in Cordova, Alaska that operates several fish hatcheries has been sentenced to pay a $450,00 fine and $550,000 in restitution and five years of probation for illegal disposal of hazardous waste at one of its hatcheries.
Chief U.S. District Court judge Sharon L. Gleason handed down the sentence in Anchorage last week for the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. (PWSAC). Gleason noted that it was “regrettable that it took such a serious injury to bring about this charge.”
Court documents showed that on June 27, 2018, the maintenance manager at the Cannery Creek Hatchery in Unakwik Inlet instructed an employee to burn several 50-gallon drums that contained hazardous waste, causing serious injury to the employee.
Cannery Creek and other PWSAC hatcheries had been accumulating hazardous waste for many years without an appropriate method of storage or disposal.
Probation requirements include PWSAC following an environmental compliance plan under which the corporation would prepare an environmental compliance manual and undergo site visits by a third-party auditor. U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska S. Lane Tucker said the crime would cause lifelong consequences for the victim, as well as harmful impact to the environment.
The defendant ignoring environmental regulations for disposing of hazardous waste resulted in the explosion on the corporation’s property and injuries to its employee, said Scot Adair of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Alaska.
PWSAC had earlier acknowledged the improper disposal of hazardous waste. The plea agreement also acknowledged the company’s history of mishandling fuel, including a 2013 incident in which there was a 400-gallon diesel fuel spill from a heating oil tank at the Cannery Creek Hatchery in which the state of Alaska filed charges.
The case was investigated by the EPA criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.