Commercial fishing captain sentenced for dumping 8 tons of waste into Southeast Alaska waters
The captain of the commercial fishing boat Alaskan Girl has been sentenced for causing her crew to dump eight tons of sandblast waste into Southeast Alaska’s Sumner Strait in June 2017, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder’s office.
Before being sentenced by a judge, 32-year-old Brannon Finney pleaded guilty to one court of unlawful discharge of a pollutant, a violation of the Clean Water Act.
The court ordered Finney to pay an $8,000 fine, donate $2,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, complete 40 hours of community service and post a public apology. Finney will also be on probation for 18 months.
According to court documents, Alaskan Girl was en route from Wrangell to Petersburg on June 15, 2017, when the dump happened. There were four bags of sandblast waste loaded onto the boat at Finney’s direction, each weighing about 4,000 pounds.
“The waste, generated from the recent re-painting of the F/V Alaskan Girl, was a mixture of the copper slag used to remove the paint from the vessel as well as approximately 15 gallons of paint chips removed in the sandblast process,” the statement from Schroder’s office reads.
Along with Finney and two crewmembers, a cameraman was onboard Alaskan Girl, filming for a possible TV reality show. He captured footage of one bag hanging over the side of the boat while crew members sliced through it with a knife, spilling a black sandy substance into the water.
When Alaskan Girl arrived in Petersburg, an Alaska Wildlife Trooper told Finney he’d gotten a complaint about the boat leaving Wrangell with the bags of waste onboard. When he asked her where it went, Finney replied, “We just dumped it.”
Investigators say Finney dumped the waste in order to avoid paying $1,460 to properly dispose of it.
“Maintaining the pristine waters of Alaska is important to all residents and visitors to our state,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder. “The quality of our waters is essential to Alaska’s fishing fleet. Fishing is one of the most important parts of our economy, and Alaska seafood is prized worldwide because of the quality of the catch. Protecting our waters is [vital] to our economy, as well as the environment.”
The Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions investigated the case.
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