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Tougher New Regulations For Seafood Processors

Release Date: 7/30/2001
Contact Information: Burney Hill
(206) 553-1761

July 30, 2001 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 01-022

The Northwest regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, stricter permit for Alaska’s 250 seafood processing facilities. The new general permit, which became effective on Friday, July 27, 2001, still allows facilities to dump their waste, but imposes tougher standards for doing so.
The new permit retains many of the provisions of the previous permit issued in 1995, including limiting the accumulation of discharged wastes from any one facility to one acre of sea floor. The new permit also generally limits discharges from any shore-based or near-shore facility to 10 million pounds per year. However facilities can discharge more than 10 million pounds if they can prove to the EPA and the Alaska Department of Environment and Conservation (ADEC) that discharges of larger amounts do not create waste deposits exceeding one acre.

Other significant changes from the previous permit:
• Selected critical habitats of the Steller’s eider (a small sea duck listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) have been added to the set of areas excluded from coverage under the permit;
• Other conditions designed to protect Steller’s eider have been incorporated into the Best Management Practices and monitoring requirements of the permit;
• Discharges from the processing of unwashed mince, meal, and other secondary by-products is permitted only upon review and approval by EPA and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC);
• Seafood processing wastes may be discharged at-sea at distances at least one nautical mile from shore in waters at least 120 feet deep;
• Discharge of petroleum is explicitly prohibited;
• Discharge into small bays and other water bodies whose dimensions do not provide enough area to allow for the implementation of mixing zones and zones of deposit in conformance with the Alaska Water Quality Standards are not permitted.

The EPA has taken a number of enforcement actions against processors in the last two years, the most recent being against a pair of facilities operating in the Ketchikan area for the exceedance of the one acre zone of deposit for discharged wastes, the discharge of residues in excess of one-half inch in any dimension, or for failure to treat all seafood processing wastes prior to discharge.
Recent EPA News Releases on Seafood Processors . . .

April 23,2001EPA Orders Fish Processor to Stop Fouling Ketchikan Waters
March 8, 2001EPA Charges Seafood Processors With Polluting Alaska Waters
December 19, 2001EPA Charges Seafood Processors With Polluting Alaska Waters