PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland glass-making company that drew ire after poisonous heavy metal hot spots were discovered in the city is back to meeting customer demand after installing new pollution controls.
State regulators announced in February they discovered hazardous levels of cadmium and arsenic in the air near Bullseye Glass, which prompted the company to suspend use of the metals. The business is the target of lawsuits alleging that it was negligent and reckless in burning heavy metals in furnaces that lacked pollution controls.
Jim Jones, Bullseye’s vice president, said Bullseye last month installed a device known as a baghouse, which filters and controls emissions of toxic metals, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported (http://goo.gl/1Ns6jl ). Bullseye won’t have to test the air coming out of the baghouse for pollutants until early next year, but state officials say they are confident the baghouse works.
“It’s a pretty substantial piece of equipment. It’s not something you just sort of throw in there,” said Keith Johnson, air quality director with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Officials said they inspected and approved the new baghouse on Aug. 29. Production of glass colored with heavy metals resumed in some of Bullseye’s newly filtered furnaces that same day, Jones said.
They also said Bullseye has separately met a Sept. 1 deadline to clean or replace its smokestacks, which regulators believe could be the source of elevated levels of hexavalent chromium in Southeast Portland air.
Johnson said at least two other Portland-area glass manufacturers have given notice they will be installing the same kind of filter that Bullseye has: Northstar and Glass Alchemy.
Mary Peveto of Neighbors for Clean Air said her organization is cautiously optimistic about the progress, saying that the Department of Environmental Quality’s oversight of the plant demonstrated increased vigilance. Peveto’s group has been a vocal critic of the state’s role in overseeing industrial pollution.
Bullseye’s vice president lamented the difficulties the company has faced. Its use of toxic heavy metals in unfiltered furnaces was not illegal when the heavy metal hotspots were discovered. In addition to lawsuits from neighbors, the company has piled up a backlog of orders and cancellations from customers.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com