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Point Pride Seafood Fined
Chris Fulcher's Seafood operation receives $21.5k penalty
February 20, 2023

hristopher Fulcher’s Point Pride Seafood, has been fined by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Resources for pollution. The penalty: $21,588.98.

In early 2022, Fulcher received notices of violation for two separate incidents. (An NOV is “the initial formal notification of non-compliance. An NOV is based on the inspection report and lists the violations, the corrective actions needed, the deadline for completing them, and any penalties for initial and continuing violations.”)

The First Incident: Oriental Harbor
On Saturday, February 12, 2022, red paint chips were found floating in Oriental’s harbor – officially called Raccoon Creek.
Top photos show the paint in the harbor, seen from the sidewalk by the harbor. Bottom left is a closer view of the mostly red and some white paint chips. Bottom right is what appeared to be the source – a crew had been grinding paint from the bow of the fishing trawler Chastity Brooke. (Click photos for larger view.)

Oriental Police Officer Nic Blaney was informed, who contacted Point Pride Seafood owner Chris Fulcher mid-morning Saturday. Officer Blaney told TownDock that Fulcher stated it would cease, and they would clean up the harbor.

No effort to clean the harbor was observed. In fact, the opposite occurred. That afternoon new paint debris was spotted on the harbor.

TownDock took a look, and found a crew grinding on Chastity Brooke just after 2p Saturday. Video:

There did not appear to be any effort to contain the paint debris falling into the harbor. A worker using a hose appears to attempt to get the debris to sink.

Officer Blaney contacted NC Hazardous Waste Management, who also provided the information to NC DEQ.

The Second Incident: The Neuse River
On March 2, fishing trawler Gaston Bell, another Fulcher owned fishing vessel, was anchored in the middle of the Neuse River. Crew were seen in hazmat suits, grinding paint on the pilot house. A passing boater notified Sound Rivers, who notified DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality).

A maintenance crew member in a Hazmat suit was photographed grinding paint on the Gaston Bell in March 2022. The vessel was anchored in open water at the time.
The Gaston Bell anchored in the Neuse River. Dust from grinding drifts in front of the stern.

NCDEQ investigated and found “a debris field of approximately 75,000 square feet.” Fulcher was issued a second notice of violation. The assessment by the Division of Water Resources said, “The second violation appears to be willful, given that Fulcher’s Seafood Inc. has been notified about the first violation, yet they still conducted another in-water boat maintenance with only the location changed.”

A fine of $21,588.98 was issued on February 7, 2023 for both violations.

This was not the first time. In 2015 and 2017, Fulcher received notices from the Division of Air Quality for the same type of incident.

Permit Request for Boat Work in 2016
In 2016, Fulcher submitted a Special Use Permit (SUP) request to the town for a travel lift and boat wash. The travel lift would have extended 100 feet into the harbor.

The SUP was granted on the condition that the roofless building on the Fulcher property be enclosed and have a ventilation system. When updated designs were submitted to the town mid 2017 – the plan for the building had changed; there was now a retractable roof in place of a stationary one.

The public, at a Planning Board meeting for the SUP in July 2017, had concerns about the change. From the article on the July 2017 meeting:

Fulcher has been cited and fined by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for releasing contaminants into the air and harbor waters in the past. Sandblasting and other activities normally associated with boat yard work have been performed on trawlers at his dock, spreading sandblast dust and paint beyond his docks, in effect making the harbor part of his workspace. In one incident, the harbor along Hodges was coated red with paint chips.

Citizens on Wednesday expressed concern that similar violations could occur again if a retractable roof is allowed instead of the fixed roof he originally proposed when he sought the SUP from the Town last fall.

In August of 2017, Town Manager Miller was notified by the Coastal Resources Commission (who oversee Coastal Area Management Act permits) that the boatyard plans had been withdrawn. The Board of Commissioners unanimously revoked the SUP at that time as well as a Land Use Permit (LUP) that had also been granted.

Since then, Fulcher’s Point Pride has continued to conduct boatyard activities on the harbor. Fulcher told Oriental officers and NCDEQ investigators he would either cease or mitigate the issues. The activities documented by the fine show otherwise.

Despite being within Oriental town limits, the town has no jurisdiction over the water and air – where much of this pollution lands. That makes NCDEQ the regulating authority.

Related Information
Fulcher Civil Penalty Assessment, February 7, 2023
Sound Rivers Press Release, February 2023
Notice of Violation, February 17, 2022
Notice of Violation & Intent to Assess February 25, 2022
Paint Chip Pollution, February 15, 2022
Harbor Water Paint Pollution, March 2022
Packed Meeting Hears Unhappy Public, July 2017
Letters: More Comments on Fulcher Point Boatyard, August 2017

Posted Monday February 20, 2023 by Allison DeWeese

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