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Washington Department of Ecology Fines Pacific Seafood $222,000

Westport-300x169Pacific Seafood’s Westport facility has been fined $222,000 for “repeatedly discharging polluted wastewater into Half Moon Bay in Westport.” The Washington Department of Ecology also reported that in the past two years, the facility has violated its water quality permits 58 times.

“It’s unacceptable that this facility is continuing to pollute Half Moon Bay after repeated citations and technical assistance,” said Vince McGowan, Ecology’s water quality program manager. “The majority of similar companies in the industry are able to meet permit requirements. The bottom line is that we need this facility to comply with their permit and stop polluting Half Moon Bay. This includes making any needed upgrades to their wastewater treatment system to fix the problem.”

Pacific Seafood failed to monitor its wastewater discharge as mandated. The Department of Ecology determined that the company’s wastewater contained “too much organic matter, solids, acidity, oil and grease, and fecal coliform bacteria.”

“This type of pollution can threaten aquatic life and human health,” the Department of Ecology noted in the press release.

This $222,000 penalty follows a previous fine in 2022 for water quality violations in Grays Harbor. The Washington Department of Ecology had fined Pacific Seafood-Westport $123,000 for violations occurring from April 2020 to November 2021. During that time, the company was found to have discharged wastewater containing fecal coliform, grease, and oils and “other solids above the amounts allowed in its permit.”

Pacific Seafood also neglected to monitor several wastewater discharges as required by its permit. The company settled with the Department of Ecology for $92,250, with an agreement to suspend $30,750 of the penalty if the facility remains in compliance with conditions established in its water quality permit for one year.

Before the 2022 penalty, Pacific Seafood’s Westport facility was fined in 2020 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company agreed to pay $190,000 for 2,100 violations discovered during an unannounced EPA inspection in 2017.

Regarding the latest penalty, Pacific Seafood has 30 days to appeal to the Pollution Control Hearings Board. The company issued the following statement:

“Our company prides itself on our commitment to the environment and is a recognized leader in pollution reduction by the EPA. At our Westport facility alone, we’ve invested millions of dollars in technology and our robust team dedicated to Environment Health includes dedicated on-site staff in Westport. We are actively collaboratively with Ecology to retain multiple third-party engineers and technical professionals to modify and improve its wastewater treatment system. Pacific has spent thousands of additional dollars and invested in upgrades, all in accordance with the comprehensive engineering report and the schedule for improvements that Ecology reviewed.

“We are disheartened with Ecology’s approach to sensationalize information and intentionally mislead the public instead of working with our team. For example, their press release alleges we are ‘are polluting Half Moon Bay with water that is too acidic’ giving the impression that pH violations are ongoing and regular, when the truth is, there was only a single pH violation, which resulted from a broken pH meter.

“The regulations we must comply with are incredibly stringent, technical, and data intensive. We go above and beyond to protect our environment, but sometimes we might make a mistake. Unfortunately, it’s the mistakes that get headlines, not all of the times we’ve done the right thing. We will be filing an appeal.”

When Ecology receives water quality penalty payments, they are added to the state’s Coastal Protection Fund. This fund offers grants to public agencies and local Tribes to support water quality restoration projects.

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