Pacific Seafood fined $123K for wastewater violations

The Washington Department of Ecology has penalized Pacific Seafood–Westport, LLC for water quality violations in Grays Harbor. The fine, which is $123,000, is for 49 permit violations from April 2020 through November 2021.

“The company’s seafood processing facility released wastewater containing fecal coliform, grease, oils, and other solids above the amounts allowed in its permit. The company also did not monitor several wastewater discharges as required by the permit,” states a press release sent by the Department of Ecology on April 14.

Pacific Seafood’s processing facility in Westport discharges wastewater into the Half Moon Bay of Westhaven State Park. The area is a hot spot for surfers, who take advantage of the sizable breaks located along the shoreline. The bay even played host to the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Classic for 17 years before the competition was canceled in 2019. It is also a popular area for other forms of recreation, as visitors enjoy the beach and dunes.

Half Moon Bay includes wetlands and open marine water, and is home to several fish, crab, and shorebird species.

“Excess effluent from seafood processing can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Maintaining water quality standards and eliminating pollution is critical to protecting the health of this important ecosystem,” stated the Department of Ecology.

Pacific Seafood Group is headquartered in Clackamas, Oregon, and employs more than 3,000 team members in 41 facilities across 11 states.

“Pacific Seafood appreciates our partnership with the city of Westport and is committed to honoring all regulatory responsibilities. Our robust Environmental, Health, and Safety team is currently investigating the issues raised and we will ensure any necessary corrections are implemented immediately,” said Bill Weidman, General Manager of Pacific Seafood–Westport in a statement.

The company has 30 days to appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board, which consists of three members appointed by the governor. Water quality penalty payments are placed in the states’ Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to locally-sponsored projects that restore or enhance the environment: from addressing water quality issues to promoting fish and wildlife protection in or adjacent to waters of the state.

“We maintain a state-of-the-art, multi-phase pre-treatment system designed to discharge clean water to Grays Harbor,” said Weidman, who did not share whether Pacific Seafood–Westport intends to appeal the penalty.

“We never use chemicals or harmful additives in our seafood processing, so our comprehensive pretreatment systems and trained crew work around the clock to ensure that all residual proteins (fish cuttings, bones, skin, etc.) — the only source of ‘pollutants’ — are removed prior to discharge.”