Grieg Seafood said today it has still to work out the financial consequences and the environmental impact of a large chlorine spill at one of its slaughterhouses – which poisoned fish in pens beside the plant – but stressed that the affected fish are insured.
The company lost an estimated 96,000 salmon, totalling 430 tonnes, in the incident near Altfjord in northern Norway.
It said: “During the incident, 15,000 litres of chlorine unfortunately leaked into the fjord. The leak did not cause harm to employees or other people, either on land or at sea. Grieg Seafood Finnmark regrets to say that 96,000 fish, who were in the pens at the harvesting plant, died. This corresponds to approximately 430 tonnes.”
Grieg admitted it did not yet have a complete overview of how the leak has affected the environment in the fjord.
The company said: “Grieg Seafood Finnmark has engaged Akvaplan-Niva to conduct an independent assessment of the environmental impact, which will include collecting samples of the seabed around the harvesting plant.”
It also pointed out that chlorine rapidly breaks down and dilutes in water: “According to what we know today, the leak had a short-term, acute impact on organisms that were in the water around the harvesting plant when the incident occurred. The environmental assessment, which is expected to take a few days, will provide a full answer.”
“Grieg Seafood Finnmark is working to clean up the pens. The harvesting plant’s silage system and silage boats will take care of the dead fish, which is monitored continuously. It is expected that the clean-up will take a few days.
“The company is co-operating fully with all authorities, and awaits their investigation into the course of events that led to the leak.”
“Under normal circumstances, chlorine is used to disinfect the processing water at the harvesting plant, in accordance with the regulations of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the environmental authorities. The financial consequences have not been clarified. The fish are insured.”
The plant manager Stine Torheim said: “This is very sad. Our focus is now first and foremost on cleaning up. We will get all facts about this incident on the table, to ensure that it will not happen again.”