Trident, EPA Reach Settlement of Fish Waste Discharges

In a settlement reached with two federal agencies, Trident Seafoods will remove nearly three-and-a-half acres of waste from the seafloor near its plant at Sand Point, in the Aleutian Chain, and limit the amount of seafood waste discharged from its plant at Wrangell, in Southeast Alaska.

The Seattle-based processor also agreed in the agreement reached with the US Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency to pay a $297,000 civil penalty, and to conduct a comprehensive audit of the company’s system for monitoring environmental compliance.

The settlement, announced on March 1, will help protect the seafloor, surrounding water quality and important habitat for a variety of marine life, said Edward Kowalski, director of the EPA Region 10 Office of Compliance and Enforcement.

Trident has operated a fish meal plant at Sand Point since 1996 to help limit the quantity of fish waste discharged to marine waters. Yet after years of processing, the historic waste pile exceeds the allowable one-acre limit, and continues to impair the health of the seafloor, EPA officials said. Unauthorized discharge of seafood processing waste leads to large seafood waste piles containing bones, shells and other organic materials that result in unsuitable habitats for fish and other living organisms.

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 plant.

The company also agreed to screen out most solid seafood waters at the Wrangell plant, to reduce or eliminate water discharges to the nearshore marine environment. Annual dive surveys at both processing plants will now monitor the size of any accumulated seafood waste to ensure continued compliance with permit requirements. EPA officials said they expect the combination of these measures to improve water quality and help ensure Trident’s long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.