Crime & Courts

Feds charge third Alaska seafood plant employee with Clean Air Act violation

The government has charged another former Dutch Harbor seafood plant employee for working with his supervisors to cover up their failure to use emissions reducing systems.

James Hampton worked as the assistant chief engineer at Westward Seafood Inc.'s Aleutian facility in Unalaska. He is the third defendant federal prosecutors in Alaska have charged with a Clean Air Act violation, a crime that carries a potential two-year jail term and a $500,000 fine.

The facility's powerhouse supervisor, Raul Morales, was in charge of generating daily reports that monitored the use of the emission systems, but he has been charged with falsifying those records.

Hampton knew that the systems weren't being operated and that the forms were false, according to a federal court document.

The document further alleges that Hampton and the company's environmental compliance manager escorted an Environmental Protection Agency inspector around the facility in April 2011.

The powerhouse supervisor caught wind of the inspection beforehand and started turning on the systems; Hampton showed the inspector the systems and validated the daily logs despite knowing they were wrong, the documents says.

Assistant U.S. attorney Kevin Feldis has filed plea agreements in the three cases involving the former Westward employees.

Westward's president, Rick Dutton, previously told Alaska Dispatch News that the allegedly illegal acts of powerhouse operator Bryan Beigh and "other rogue employees" were discovered in September 2011. The employees were immediately fired and federal authorities were contacted, he said.

An entry of plea hearing has not been set in Hampton's case, according to online court records.