Seafood Companies to Pay Nearly $500,000 in Penalties Due to Refrigerant Releases
Settlement announced by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice
SEATTLE — Two seafood processing and cold storage companies, Ocean Gold Seafoods Inc. and Ocean Cold LLC, have agreed to cut R-22 refrigerant releases from leaking refrigeration equipment at their facilities in Westport, Washington, and pay $495,000 in penalties for environmental violations.
The settlement was announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for violations of the federal Clean Air Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
“Because of this settlement, the Ocean Companies are expected to cut their future ozone-depleting releases and reduce their future refrigerant emissions in an amount equivalent to approximately 47 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year, another step in our efforts to combat climate change,” said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Pacific Northwest Office of Compliance and Enforcement. “Investing in better equipment and maintenance to stop wasteful refrigerant leaks is good for our environment and good for business.”
According to the EPA, since at least 2007, the Ocean Companies failed to promptly repair refrigerant leaks and failed to keep adequate records of the servicing of their refrigeration equipment necessary to prevent leaks, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The companies also failed to provide timely release reports to EPA and emergency planners, in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
The settlement requires the Ocean Companies to commit to a refrigerant release reduction program, to implement a refrigerant compliance management plan, to train employees in their refrigerant-related work requirements, and to provide periodic reports to EPA. The companies also agreed to use a third-party verifier to inspect their facilities and records to observe leak detection and recordkeeping practices, as well as to determine whether the companies’ actions and records comply with the management plan and the terms of the settlement. In addition to the penalties, as part of the settlement, the Ocean Companies have agreed to fix all refrigerant leaks and implement facility-wide improvements expected to cost about $260,000.
The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Publication date: 3/10/2016