“What we see at the top of the pipe is almost of drinking water clarity”

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“Images that Tavish captured over the past several months, don’t reflect what’s currently the condition of our operation,” said Brown’s Bay Packing Company MD Dave Stover.

Last Wednesday, activist and photographer Tavish Campbell posted footage of himself underwater sign saying “2019 Fish Farm Virus Still Flowing”.

He told SalmonBusiness that the footage was taken throughout October, with the last dive taken at the end of November. Campbell had made a similar graphic video two years ago – where a constant stream of bright red liquid mixed into the water. The footage was widely covered by media and circulated around the world at the time.

On Wednesday, SalmonBusiness wrote to Brown’s Bay Packing Company MD Dave Stover for clarification on the footage and if he could provide more details into what happened.

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The plant in British Columbia, Canada – has been operating since 1989 – and currently provides salmon processing services for Grieg Seafood and to Cermaq Canada.

Stover and the BC Salmon Farmers Association did not provide a statement. However Brown’s Bay Packing Company social media account tagged this publication on Twitter on Friday evening and directed it to listen to Managing Director Dave Stover’s interview on CKNW.

Stover went into more details about the processors’ CAD 1.5 million wastewater treatment which was set up in May.

“There lots of variability in a system like that, including flow. We don’t have a steady flow everyday, you need to make sure the system operates during peak flows, water tempaertatures, salinity all these variables affect the function of that system,” he told News Talk 980 CKNW.

Don’t reflect
Stover did not dispute the footage, however he said: “The images that Tavish captured over the past several months, don’t reflect what’s currently the condition of our operation”.

2017’s bloody water footage. SCREENSHOT: BBC/

He said that that the waste water has been cleaned up and explained that the company has an aggressive filtration system to “strip colour, redness and the protein out of the effluent – and the last part of the process is disinfection prior to discharge”.

News Talk 980 CKNW’s presenter said that the footage was “stark” and asked him what was coming out of the pipe now.

Drinking water clarity
“What we see at the top of the pipe is almost of drinking water clarity – so if you were to take a glass of water and drop a little bit of lemon juice in it, it would cloud it up slightly but it’s certainly clear and definitely not red,” said Stover.

He was also pressed why the company had not been able to address the issue before and said that the technology was not available before in 2015 or 2017.

“The Ministry of Environment enacted a real thorough process to overhaul their discharge effluent permits for fish processing which were signifantly out of date. The standards were relatively low – and thats the standard we all operated in on this Coast. I think there are 34 permit holders,” said Stover.

He explained that it “completely changed the nature of the permit and set standards of the country” and “as the second largest fish processor on the coast, we have the strictest permit requirements in this sector”.

“Once we knew the permit parameters, we were able to go out and aquire water treatment equipment, then we added some innovation to make it better,” he said.

Admired Campbell’s work
Stover was then asked if any of this would have been addressed if Tavish Campbell had not filmed the effluent.

“I dont think so,” answered Stover, who added that he admired Campbell’s work and would like to meet him.

“I think that Tavish’s video in 2017 was the catalist to bring all the groups togther including technology to address this issue.”

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said it was is sending an inspector to visit the site this week.

On Thursday, a Cermaq spokesperson told SalmonBusiness: “Over the past 18 months all of industry has worked closely with the Province on processing plant regulatory reform. British Columbia has implemented some of the strictest processing waste water standards for salmon aquaculture in Canada. Cermaq respects responsible regulation and has been in support of the large investment in waste water treatment technology at Browns Bay Processing.”

Grieg Seafood has told SalmonBusiness that it is drafting a response but also directed SalmonBusiness towards the CKNW interview.