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Fishy Compliance Practices Lead to Hefty Fine for Seafood Plant

The Norton Sound Seafood Products Co. may have gained an economic advantage over its competitors in recent years by not abiding by EPA regulations. The company was discovered to have not met the EPA’s reporting or record-keeping requirements; it also failed to adequately monitor grinders, its waste-conveyance system, and the shore where waste is released, the EPA found during an inspection in 2016.

The seafood company will pay a penalty of more than $50,000 for the violations that led to the improper discharge of fish processing waste into Norton Sound.

The EPA says that in addition to minimizing a seafood processor’s impact on the environment, its regular inspections ensure that companies do not enjoy an unfair economic advantage over its “permit-abiding competitors.”

The Norton settlement is a drop in the bucket compared to the settlement that Westward Seafoods agreed to pay in April for skirting the Clean Air Act, however. The company, which turned off air pollution controls from 2009 to 2011, was required to pay a civil penalty of $1.3 million; Westward will also be required to spend $1.1 million on air pollution reduction projects, to use new electronic systems for monitoring, record-keeping and reporting, to properly train personnel for compliance, and to implement a more robust preventative maintenance and operations plan, the EPA said.
While companies may see some economic benefits by skimping on regulatory compliance, the subsequent related penalties can have a significant negative impact on a business. EPA enforcement actions secured $13.7 billion from companies during fiscal year 2016, according to the agency’s annual enforcement results. This is up from fiscal year 2015, when enforcement actions cost companies about $7 billion.
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