Icicle Seafoods Inc. fined $430,000 for air pollution violations

Icicle, which processes seafood throughout Alaska, has agreed to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act resulting from leaks of an ozone-depleting refrigerant aboard its seafood vessels and in processing facilities, according to a consent decree lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The company has agreed to repair leaks in its vessels and facilities, according to an Aug. 10 news release from the EPA’s Seattle office.

“There is a clear link between the deterioration of the ozone layer and the release of certain substances used for refrigeration,” said Ed Kowalski, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement at EPA’s Seattle office. “Companies using these chemicals in the course of business must do so responsibly by repairing leaks and preventing releases into the atmosphere.”

The settlement concerns the improper release and management of R-22, an ozone-depleting refrigerant used on the company’s vessels and at its seafood processing facilities. The consent decree, which includes Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods Inc. and several of its subsidiaries, was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.

According to the settlement, the company had a series of Clean Air Act violations between 2006 and 2008 associated with the refrigerant R-22. The violations include: failure to repair refrigerant leaks in a timely manner; failure to ensure adequate repairs to refrigeration appliances before resuming operation; failure to possess a certified refrigerant recovery device for use when performing service on refrigeration appliances; and inadequate records of repair service on refrigeration appliances, according to the EPA.

Icicle Seafoods harvests and processes salmon, crab, pollock, halibut, Pacific cod, black cod and fish roe. The consent decree was signed by Icicle Seafoods Inc., Evening Star Inc., Icicle Acquisition Subsidiary ILLC and LFK, Inc. The consent decree is available for public comment.

Icicle is the second major seafood company fined by the EPA this summer.

American Seafoods Company and Pacific Longline Company have also agreed to phase out the use of ozone depleting refrigerants, implement a comprehensive leak detection and repair program aboard a number of their vessels and pay a penalty to resolve federal Clean Air Act violation, the EPA said in June.

The two companies will pay a $700,000 fine, according to the EPA. Both are owned by the same parent company. American Seafoods operates factory trawlers mainly netting pollock, while Pacific Longline owns three factory longliners fishing for cod with hooks.

The companies will spend between $9 and $15 million to fix the problem, the EPA said. American Seafood factory trawlers regularly call in Dutch Harbor to offload frozen fish caught in the Bering Sea.

“Between 2006 and 2009, American Seafoods Company and Pacific Longline Company used R-22 as a refrigerant in industrial refrigeration units aboard seafood catcher-processor vessels. American Seafoods illegally imported 70,000 kg of R-22 refrigerant to the United States without holding valid allowances. The United States limits the amount of R-22 that companies are permitted to import through the use of set allowances,” according to an EPA news release in June.

R-22 is among a set of refrigerants being phased out of use due to their high ozone depletion potential under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Stratospheric ozone depletion can cause increased ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth and has been linked to skin cancer, cataracts and impaired immune systems. It can also damage crops and reduce crop yields. Some scientists suggest that marine phytoplankton, the base of the ocean food chain, may be under stress from ultraviolet radiation, according to the EPA.

Original article available at http://www.thedutchharborfisherman.com/article/1233icicle_find_430k_for_air_pollution

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