Trident Seafoods Corporation, one of the largest seafood processing companies in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, will spend up to $23 million to reduce coolant leaks from refrigerators and other equipment and to improve compliance; the company will also pay a $900,000 fine. Trident agreed to the settlement with the EPA and the US Department of Justice to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
The EPA says Trident violated the Act by failing to promptly repair leaks of the refrigerant R-22, an ozone-depleting hydrocholorofluorocarbon (HCFC). This allowed its appliances to leak refrigerant at high rates for thousands of days, releasing over 200,000 pounds of harmful refrigerant to be released into the atmosphere, according to the EPA.
Trident will retrofit or retire 23 refrigeration appliances used on 14 marine vessels to use an alternative refrigerant that does not harm the ozone layer compared to typical refrigerants. Trident also agreed to retrofit nine of these appliances as part of a Supplemental Environmental Project.
Trident Seafoods will also conduct routine leak inspections of all appliances, promptly repair leaks, install leak detectors to monitor appliances for leaks, add fluorescent dye into appliances to assist staff in detecting leaks, compile information to assist in identifying common failure points on appliances, and train employees to properly manage the appliances. In addition, the settlement sets a corporate-wide refrigerant leak cap and requires Trident to retain a third-party auditor to review the company’s compliance with the consent decree and regulations.
EPA regulations require that owners or operators of industrial refrigeration equipment that contains over 50 pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerants repair leaks within 30 days, and that they verify and document leak repairs and servicing. The regulations also prohibit appliances from being opened by people other than specially trained certified technicians and require the use of certified refrigerant recovery devices when appliances are opened.
Trident Seafoods says it has a strong commitment to sustainable fishing practices. “We respect our surrounding environment the same way we respect fisheries – by honoring our responsibility in the way we use resources,” its website claims. “Because we process as well as harvest seafood, we can hold ourselves to a higher standard of accountability – we are constantly innovating to reduce the environmental footprint of vessel and shore operations.”
Refrigeration technologies are essential for the cold food chain management in the marine sector. Responsible management of refrigeration and air-conditioning technologies in the mobile marine and fisheries sectors plays a critical role towards meeting and sustaining environmental obligations, UN Environment says.