An outbreak of coronovirus has led to the closure of the Trident Seafoods Processing Plant in remote Akutan for three weeks, as the facility prepares for the lucrative pollock season.
The plant is the largest seafood production facility in North America in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, with 1,400 employees and the ability to process up to 3 million pounds of raw fish a day. Bering Sea Pollock – a silvery fish found in everything from fish sticks to sushi – is the center of its operation.
That season is about to begin. Processing for cod and crab was already underway. A statement by Trident called the decision to stop the operation “extremely difficult and impressive”.
The Trident decision marks the second major processing facility to close due to a coronovirus outbreak. Unisea Inc. in Unalaska The K plant decided to conduct more than half of the positive tests during the travel-related quarantine after testing positives of 55 employees since January. This facility is the largest in the state. Company officials say the outbreak of the plant started with the New Year’s party at the company’s residence.
Trident says that it is not known how the virus entered the Akutan plant. Testing is underway on staff. A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question about whether any additional cases were detected.
This week Trident confirmed four workers – three processing plant workers and one who works at Galley – tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday. All four tested negative two weeks ago. The cases were not discovered until an employee had trouble breathing and was blown up by Coast Guard anchorage for treatment.
The company released a statement on Thursday, stating that “a three-week halt in operations … to enable extensive testing and support preventive quarantine for its 700 workers there.”
Company officials said the decision was made based on the advice of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and other industry members.
Trident CEO Dr. Chandrakant said, “Our review of the protocol so far shows that our robust quarantine protocol was closely followed and successful.” “We have not determined how the virus entered Akutan but are investigating all possible gaps. This serious action to stop operations requires us to allow everything to be done to provide a safe working environment and to resume full operations as much as possible. “
All 700 employees in Akutan are staying in company housing and undergoing daily health check-ups. Another 365 that was held after quarantine in Anchorage before leaving for Akutan could be moved to other Trishul facilities.
The statement said workers are being paid for their time on campus in closed campus and Trident is “working to provide support to make their isolation as bearable as possible.”
According to Trident spokesman Stephanie Budrant, the City of East Aleutian Tribes and medical professionals have provided the necessary assistance through this process. State officials held daily meetings with Trident employees.
“I am grateful for my incredible support and partnership,” Bundant said in the statement. He said that Akersham Mayor Joe Berskin “personally went to great lengths” to help relieve the breathing problems of the employee who needed care at the hospital.
According to corporate information, Trishul is the largest integrated seafood processing and processing company in North America. The company employs more than 8,000 people and serves hundreds of independent harvesters throughout Alaska each year. It operates processing facilities in 10 coastal Alaska communities and also owns and operates three large whitefish catcher-processors and four mobile processing vessels.