SITKA, Alaska – Sitka-based seafood processor Silver Bay Seafoods, LLC has reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over federal Clean Water Act discharge violations. EPA found violations of Silver Bay’s wastewater discharge permit during a routine inspection of its Sitka facility.
Following the inspection, EPA notified the company of the Clean Water Act violations and required Silver Bay Seafoods to complete a dive survey to assess seafloor conditions near its discharge pipe. The results of that survey, completed in 2017, revealed a 2.76-acre seafood waste pile – more than double the one-acre limit in their permit.
According to Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division in Seattle, seafood processing can cause real damage to underwater ecosystems if permit limits aren’t maintained.
“Fish processing facilities have wastewater discharge permit limits for a reason,” said EPA’s Kowalski. “Local receiving waters can get inundated with fish entrails, blood, oil and other byproducts at levels they just can’t handle. Where seafood waste piles exceed permit requirements, companies must take swift action to reduce discharge volumes and comply with legal limits.”
Based on the dive survey findings, Silver Bay Seafoods took proactive measures to reduce discharge volumes and help reduce the size of the pile. In response to the dive survey, the company installed new treatment technology that decreased the volume of seafood waste they discharged by almost 90%.
The settlement with EPA calls for continued monitoring of the seafood waste pile and a more extensive assessment of environmental impacts if the pile size has not decreased to below the one-acre limit by December 2022. Silver Bay Seafoods also paid an $82,500 civil penalty.
Other Clean Water Act violations documented during EPA’s inspection included:
- Failure to monitor treatment system, sea surface and shoreline.
- Failure to develop an adequate best management practices plan.
- Failure to route seafood processing waste through a conveyance and treatment system.
- Unauthorized discharges of oil, blood and foam.
EPA’s Kowalski also noted that Silver Bay Seafoods undertook waste reduction measures and instituted new operating procedures prior to signing the EPA settlement.