Warrenton processing plants will complete a joint outfall pipe to handle dischargesWarrenton - Two Warrenton fish processing plants have reached an agreement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to fix problems with the way the plants discharge waste.

Pacific Coast Seafoods and Pacific Coast Surimi, both owned by Pacific Seafood Group, will have to complete a joint outfall pipe with the city of Warrenton to handle their discharges, pay the state $186,000 for past violations, and fund environmental projects in the Skipanon River.

"This agreement holds us accountable, protects jobs, improves the environment and allows the community to move forward with a responsible plan to manage wastewater," Pacific spokesman Craig Urness said.

Pacific Surimi processes thousands of whiting into surimi until all that's left of the fish is the protein, which can be turned into imitation crab or other products. Pacific Coast Seafoods processes other local fish and shrimp. These operations generate lots of wastewater, which is cleaned up to some extent with special equipment and discharged into the Skipanon River.

Pacific Coast Seafoods has a general permit from DEQ, but because it produces surimi, Pacific Surimi didn't fall under that permit. It has been operating under an DEQ-stipulated consent order since 1999. The agreement announced last week assessed penalties for a number of violations in which the two plants exceeded the limits of their permits, said Elliot Zais, senior environmental engineer with DEQ.

The agreement stated that the company couldn't keep discharging waste into the Skipanon, and so would have to employ another method, such as using the joint outfall pipe, he said. If the processors decide to hook up with Warrenton's outfall pipe, managers will have 45 days after the city completes the project to have their operation constructed and permitted.

Zais said he didn't know why the agreement took so long, but that there was lots of back-and-forth between lawyers on both sides; he added that things are in place and should be moving forward.


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