Flaws found in structure of Cooke Aquaculture’s pens in Rich Passage

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Inspectors from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have found a hole in netting and severe corrosion on several components of the facility’s above-water infrastructure.

DNR said Cooke Aquaculture has 60 days to fix problems with its net-pen operation off Bainbridge Island, or it risks losing its lease.

Cooke Aquaculture net pens off Cypress Island collapsed Aug. 19, releasing tens of thousands of Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound.

“Given the failure of the Cypress Island facility, we have to be extra vigilant in making sure Cooke’s other existing aquaculture facilities are structurally sound,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “We cannot tolerate any risk that more Atlantic salmon will be released in Washington’s waters.”

According to The Seattle Times, Cooke Aquaculture spokeswoman, Nell Halse, said the company intends to satisfy DNR’s requests, but noted that an engineer from DNR had already inspected the facility and concluded that it is safe and suitable for restocking.

“The issues raised by this letter do not impact the structural integrity of the facility and were already being addressed when the engineer was on site last month,” she said.

The Cypress Island incident remains under investigation.