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State suspends $30,000 of $67,500 fine for Trident Seafoods’ Hylebos Waterway oil spill

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Jan. 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
January 31, 2013 12:59 pm

The state Department of Ecology has agreed to suspend $30,000 of a $67,500 penalty it levied on Seattle’s Trident Seafoods Corp. for a 232-gallon oil spill into Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway.

The suspension is contingent on the seafood company’s continued environmental auditing of its vessels and its avoiding further spills greater than 25 gallons.

The spill happened on Oct. 15, 2011 when fuel was being transferred aboard Trident’s 195-foot fishing tender vessel Eastern Wind.  The fuel spilled into the Hylebos Waterway when a tank overflowed.

The spill was contained by floating boom that had been positioned around the vessel as a precaution.  That containment kept the oil from spreading and facilitated a cleanup, said the DOE.

Trident maintains much of its fishing fleet at its base near the mouth of the Hylebos.

The fishing company  also agreed to continue holding regular employee compliance briefings and to implement commercially reasonable modifications as they are identified under its voluntary audit program.

Dale Jensen, Ecology’s spills program manager, said: “Our top priority is working to prevent spills from occurring in the first place and this incident clearly should have been prevented. It damaged our waters and adversely impacted Puget Sound – which so many people are working hard to restore, protect and preserve.”

Under the new agreement signed by Trident and Ecology, the company will immediately pay $34,000 of the 2009 suspended penalty plus a $3,500 penalty for the October 2011 incident – a total state fine of $37,500.

At the time of the October 2011 spill, Trident was planning a safety and environmental audit of its 40 vessels, and implemented the program shortly after the spill. Under the review program, the company evaluates its existing staffing, equipment and operations to determine where it can improve its procedures to increase vessel safety and protect the environment., the state said.

Jensen said: “We applaud the fact that Trident has good practices in place, like pre-deploying booms, to address potential spills. Still, oil spills are toxic pollutants and impact the environmental health of our waters so ongoing, focused vigilance is always required. That’s why we’re pleased that the company is taking additional measures to prevent future spills.”

“Trident deeply regrets this spill and takes full responsibility for the incident,” said company spokesperson Joe Misenti. “We understand the importance of being a good environmental steward and are taking affirmative steps through an independent environmental audit program and compliance briefings to avoid further spills.”

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