Investigation Underway Following Ammonia Spill At Trident Seafoods' Akutan Plant

Feb 26, 2020

Akutan, photographed in July of 2019.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Trident Seafoods is investigating an ammonia leak at its processing plant in Akutan.

About 5,000 pounds of the gas spilled in late January, according to Crystal Smith of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

She said the plant was conducting a purge of its refrigeration system when company officials noticed the coolant was gone.

"They're doing some investigation to see if it was during the purge that they lost all 5,000 pounds [or] if there was a leak in the system," said Smith. "They believe it was all lost during the purge, but they are doing some investigation just to ensure that was the case."

Trident did not respond to requests for comment. 

Smith said the plant reported the leak to the DEC about two weeks after it happened and is now investigating in partnership with the department.

She said there was no way to contain the ammonia, which dispersed into the surrounding environment.

"The weather at the time had strong winds that allowed it to disperse more rapidly within the natural environment," said Smith. "At this point, we have not received any health reports, and they don't believe it got captured in areas where it could condense and cause health impacts."

Smith said the DEC is waiting for an investigation report from Trident. After that, it'll use the findings to determine the case's next steps.