ANCHORAGE - Trident Seafoods Corp. has agreed to pay $1 million for air pollution violations at the company's huge Akutan processing plant in the Aleutian Islands.
It's by far the largest air-pollution penalty ever leveled by the state, said Jeanette Brena, state compliance officer.
As part of a settlement signed with the state, Trident has paid $300,000 and is working on a variety of environmental fixes to improve performance and lower the penalty, she said.
Brena inspected the Akutan plant in September and documented 19 violations of air-quality regulations, according to the state's complaint. The most serious problem was the plant emitting too much nitrogen oxide, a byproduct of diesel combustion. Among some of the other infractions:
False company reports that the plant was in compliance with its permits.
Installation and operation of generators without permits.
Failure to conduct smoke observations and take corrective action.
Use of fuel with higher than allowed sulfur content.
Failure to maintain adequate records.
Earl Hubbard, Trident's vice president for regulatory affairs, said the company never knowingly submitted false reports. The state's permit requirements frequently changed, often arbitrarily, and it was hard to know what information the regulators needed, he said.
Trident reported its concerns about the nitrogen oxide emission to DEC and asked for help in correcting the problems.
The Trident plant on Akutan Island, in the eastern Aleutians, processes millions of pounds of crab, cod and pollock each year. It is the largest seafood production complex in North America, the state said. Because of its size, the Akutan plant runs nine diesel generators, six boilers, an incinerator and a furnace.
While Trident's Hubbard acknowledged the Akutan plant was putting out more pollution than allowed, he said the lack of other industries and the strong Aleutian winds make for pretty clean air.
The state has agreed to knock $400,000 off the fine in exchange for Trident installing a $1.5 million waste-treatment process on one of its ships. The equipment will turn some of what would normally be fish waste into surimi, a fake crab product.
Another $300,000 will be suspended provided Trident doesn't violate any aspect of the settlement, Brena said.
To lower its nitrogen oxide emissions, Trident has volunteered to outfit its biggest diesel generator with an advanced technology called selective catalytic reduction. The equipment will reduce the generator's nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent, Brena said.