Federal agency orders fish processor to stop fouling Ketchikan waters

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2001

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- Alaska General Seafoods has been ordered by a federal agency to stop fouling Ketchikan waters.

The Environmental Protection Agency's regional office in Seattle announced Monday that it is ordering the company to prevent ''eruptions'' of seafood wastes.

The EPA says excessive waste from the company has polluted public beaches in the Tongass Narrows, left a scum on the surface of the water and filled the city with noxious odors.

Alaska General operates a salmon cannery at the site from June to August, and produces significant waste during those months, said Gordon Lindquist, general manager of the Kenmore, Wash.-based company.

''We have been working closely with EPA ... to try and find ways to resolve this issue,'' he said. Lindquist said he was confident an agreement could be reached.

Last December, the agency filed a formal complaint against Alaska General, charging it with violating the terms of the Clean Water Act. During the summer and fall of 1999 residents of Ketchikan and nearby areas were subjected to odors that one person described as ''a cross between sewage and rotten fish,'' the agency said.

The EPA has ordered the company to present a plan to prevent further large discharges. It said the company will be required to stop discharging any fish waste if there is another ''eruption,'' or once Alaska General Seafoods has processed 9 million pounds of fish for the 2001 processing season.

If the company fails to comply with the order, it could be fined up to $27,500 a day for violating the Clean Water Act.

Alaska General also allegedly violated Alaska's water quality standards by having a waste pile discharge zone larger than the one acre allowed under the company's permit.

According to the EPA, depositing seafood waste in an area greater than one acre damages invertebrate populations and removes dissolved oxygen from overlying waters.

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