Press release from the Environmental Protection Agency:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced an agreement with Pacific Seafood-Eureka, LLC over violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The settlement requires the company to pay a $74,500 penalty after an EPA inspection found the company was discharging wastewater in violation of local and federal standards into the City of Eureka’s sewer system and Humboldt Bay’s Eureka Slough.

“Humboldt Bay is an important waterway enjoyed by many Californians,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Unpermitted and untreated discharges of pollutants to the bay can harm aquatic life and water quality. Industrial facilities must also treat their wastewater before it enters local sewer systems to avoid harm to the collection system and potentially impacting discharges from the treatment plant.”

Pacific Seafood-Eureka, part of the Pacific Seafood Group headquartered in Portland, Oregon, operates a seafood processing facility at its Eureka location. During a 2018 inspection with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and Eureka’s Public Works Department, EPA found the company discharged wastewater directly to the Eureka Slough waterway without the appropriate permit. EPA conducted its inspection after the City of Eureka issued several notices of violations to the facility. The facility also discharged wastewater to the city of Eureka’s sanitary sewer in violation of pretreatment standards.

Violations associated with operation and maintenance of the facility’s pretreatment system were identified, including: wastewater from the indoor shrimp processing area was bypassing the facility’s pretreatment system; the facility lacked adequate secondary containment in the indoor bulk chemical storage area and outdoor chemical storage area; wastewater from the de-shelling process was observed entering a storm drain; and the company was discharging the water used to rinse off oysters and crabs directly into the Eureka Slough. The company addressed all of these compliance issues.  

Under the Clean Water Act, certain types of industrial facilities are required to treat wastewater before it is discharged into the municipal sewer system. Failure to treat industrial wastewater can cause costly damage to municipal sewer treatment plants not designed to treat industrial pollutants and poses health risks to treatment plant and collection system staff who are exposed to these pollutants. Finally, untreated industrial waste can result in pollutants bypassing treatment, enter surface waters, and harming aquatic life and water quality.

The proposed consent agreement is subject to a 30-day comment period and final agency approval. A copy of the consent agreement can be found at this link