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Seafood Processing General Wastewater Permit Renewal


Permits are required for any discharge of wastewater to waters of the state or to ground. DEQ uses federal and state law to issue these permits.

DEQ can grant coverage under a general permit or write an individual permit for a specific facility at a specific location. Historically, most seafood processing facilities along the Oregon Coast had coverage under a general permit, called the 900-J. General permits are limited in the scope of activities they cover and may not apply to all facilities in that industry group. Or a facility may wish to have DEQ take into consideration the specific characteristics of that facility at that location. In these cases, an individual permit is used.

DEQ has the 900-J Seafood Processing General Permit and issued the new permit on Oct. 1, 2020. Seafood processors wanting coverage under this permit can review the permit and work with DEQ to apply for coverage. 

Frequently asked questions

  • ​DEQ adapted its permit coverage to respond to changes in industry practices and water quality to ensure facilities are meeting state and federal requirements.

  • DEQ can’t cover new applicants under the expired permit. Renewing the permit allows new applicants to apply for coverage. Under the iClean Water Act, permits are to be renewed every five years. If they are past five years, new applicants cannot get coverage.

  • ​An updated permit will allow DEQ and seafood processors to more effectively protect Oregon’s waters for fishing, swimming, shellfish production and other beneficial uses. 

  • Wastewater from seafood processing operations has high biochemical oxygen demand, meaning it robs the water of the dissolved oxygen that aquatic life needs to breathe. This wastewater also has suspended solids and oil and grease. It can also have metals, bacteria or disinfection chemicals in it. Treating the wastewater to remove these pollutants protects the aquatic life that live in the water and the humans that recreate in the water. 

  • ​In some cases, facilities may need to upgrade to more advanced wastewater treatment systems.

  • General permits are intended for businesses that produce small, consistent wastewater discharges. Some processors may consider moving from the general permit to an individual permit because of the unique nature or complexity of their operations, allowing DEQ to tailor permit requirements to the specific needs of the facility and local waterways.

  • In cases where a facility is not eligible for coverage under the general permit, or the facility is unable to comply with the permit conditions, DEQ may direct facilities to apply for individual permit coverage.

  • ​Monitoring and reporting requirements have been updated. 
  • Regulations for wastewater discharges to impaired waterways have been further clarified.
  • Bacteria, temperature, ammonia and chlorine limits have been replaced by monitoring and reporting requirements. Benchmarks are set and if the processor exceeds the benchmarks, they must create and implement a plan to control the pollutant that exceeded the benchmark.
  • Data on bacteria, temperature, ammonia and chlorine will used to assess the need for permit limits when the permit is renewed next.
  • Because DEQ is not proposing new limits for bacteria, temperature, ammonia and chlorine, the originally proposed schedule for complying with these limits has been removed.
  • Prior to issuing the new permit, a draft of the updated 900-J permit was put out for public comment in 2018. DEQ considered the comments submitted along with the regulatory objectives of updating the permit to be protective of human health and the environment. Based on the comments DEQ received on the draft 900-J permit in 2018, DEQ revised the permit and opened an additional comment period in 2019. DEQ reviewed comments from the 2019 public comment period and incorporated comments into the final version of the permit.


Ranei Nomura
Western Region Water Quality Program Manager

Randy Bailey
Compliance Inspector