Icicle Seafoods has agreed to pay a fine over refrigerant leaks at some of the company’s seafood processing vessels and plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency alleges the company violated the Clean Air Act between 2006 and 2008 by failing to fix refrigerant leaks in a timely manner. Katie McClintock is a compliance officer with the EPA’s office of compliance and enforcement Air Division. “The chemicals used in refrigeration are ozone depleting chemicals which destroy the ozone layer and as part of this project or this program we look at various industries to see if they might be releasing larger amounts of refrigerant than they’re allowed to under the rules,” McClintock said. “And what we found here is that there was some large leaks that weren’t being repaired and they we’re being repaired in the time period allowed so we have this case against Icicle Seafoods and as a result of this settlement, they’re going to be repairing leaks earlier and they’re going to be required to pay a penalty as well.”
The EPA and the company last month signed a consent decree filed in district court in Washington state. The company agreed to pay a fine of $430,000 dollars and follow a plan to fix and monitor releases of the refrigerant R-22 from processing vessels and shore-based facilities in Adak, Egigik and two other sites. The company agreed to the settlement but denies the allegations in the EPA’s complaint.
McClintock said the refrigerant is common but will eventually be phased out. “A lot of companies in the fishing industry and stationary sources such as grocery stores still use these ozone depleting substances,” she said. “And there are a lot of pounds used out there and they all have to repair leaks in a timely manner. But eventually most of these systems should be replaced as part of our phase out program but it will take probably the next decade or two for that to happen.”
The company that became Icicle got its start in Petersburg in 1965. Icicle processes salmon, crab, Pollock, cod, sablefish, herring and halibut at multiple shore-based plants and vessels operating in Alaska. The company did respond to a request for comment.
The EPA earlier this summer settled with two other Seattle companies American Seafoods and Pacific Longline Company over leaks and importing of the refrigerant.