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Nome seafood plant fined for waste discharge violations

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: July 26, 2017
  • Published July 26, 2017

Environmental regulators have fined a Nome seafood processor after an inspection found that operators were not properly managing the discharge of fish processing waste into Norton Sound.

The Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., owner and operator of the Norton Sound Seafood Products Co., agreed to pay a $51,050 penalty for violations uncovered during a 2016 inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The fine is part of an agreement with the company resolving the matter, the agency said Wednesday in a statement. The corporation is one of six groups in Western Alaska created under the community development quota program, established by Congress in 1992 to promote economic development.

The EPA said the size of the waste material released by the company was too large. The company failed to adequately monitor grinders, a waste-conveyance system and the shore and waters where waste is released, and it did not identify chemicals used in washing fish totes or meet reporting and record-keeping requirements, the EPA said.

Waste from seafood processors can include fish guts, bones, fins and other trimmings that can't be sold, the EPA said. Norton Sound's strong tidal and river currents don't always disperse the plant's waste.

If waste is not handled properly, the agency said, seafloors can become "carpeted with a thick layer of viscous, gelatinous goo." The waste can create acres-wide "dead zones" that choke sea life by cutting off oxygen.