Waste Water Woes Land Bandon Pacific In Hot Water

BANDON, Ore. – Bandon Pacific, a subsidiary of Pacific Seafood Group and a small retailer and seafood processor facility in Bandon, Ore., has been issued a proposed fine from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Bandon Pacific voluntarily contacted DEQ in December 2008 in a desire to ensure it was operating and reporting correctly under its discharge permit for its small processing and retail operation in Bandon. DEQ has now informed the company the state is proposing a $208,544 fine.

According to DEQ, Bandon Pacific has been in violation of failing to monitor its waste water and report results, discharging waste and failing to pass waste water through a mesh screen. Bandon Pacific is appealing the alleged violations and proposed fine.

For the last several years, we have operated with the understanding that DEQ had authorized our reporting and monitoring activity given our very low processing levels, said Graydon Stinnett, a Bandon Pacific employee and the local operator of the facility. All of the fresh water used to wash fish was screened before entering the Coquille River. We use nothing but fresh water in the process of cleaning and cutting the fish we sell to local residents, visitors and restaurants. After contacting DEQ, we connected to the city sewer system and are no longer discharging into the river.

This isnt a large processing facility were just a small shop with a couple of processing tables where, for the last several years, we have cleaned and hand cut about 25-30 fish per day using fresh water. Weve always properly disposed of our waste and screened all of the wash-water that leaves our facility, said Stinnett. Ive worked in this industry and community for 40 years and weve always cared for the environment and followed the law. I am very upset by this unfair accusation and excessive fine after voluntarily seeking help from the state. This has to be a mistake.

As a long time Oregon company, Pacific Seafood and our subsidiary companies always strive to protect the environment and work to cooperate with state officials. Weve done that in Bandon and are now being unfairly characterized, said Craig Urness, a company spokesman. We realize DEQ has a job to do, but on this one, so far they have it wrong.