For weeks, DEQ and Bullseye Glass have been negotiating over whether the company should be allowed to resume using heavy metals while DEQ crafts rules for the art glass industry. Late Monday, the two sides announced a deal. OPB’s April Baer sat down with DEQ’s Keith Johnson to find out more about the major points.
April Baer: What does this agreement accomplish in terms of DEQ’s monitoring, and Bullseye’s hope to continue production?
Keith Johnson: The agreement provides a lot of certainty. With the cease-and desist order in place, that leaves a lot of things up in the air for everybody. This agreement, I kind of think of as a bridge to their final permit. It’ll set conditions that allow DEQ to understand what the operations of this facility are going to be, and how they do their production. It also sets some controls over the kind of things they can do, and gives DEQ and OHA a say in how the facility will operate. (Reporter’s note: while the agreement lays out a broad set of disclosures, proprietary details like Bullseye’s glass formulas will not be made public—ab)
April Baer: It looks like Bullseye has basically agreed not to do unfiltered production using metals like lead, arsenic, and cadmium. There’s also language in here suggesting other materials like cobalt, manganese, nickel, and selenium might be permitted. How would that work?
Keith Johnson: Those items, right now, are prohibited. But if Bullseye would like to use those materials, they can make a request to DEQ and Oregon Health Authority. And what we’ll do — say, for a daily usage of that material in pounds — is look at their historical usage over the last couple of months, and match it up to air monitoring readings for those same chemicals, and determine whether or not we believe what they propose will create an unhealthy situation in the air. Unless they request [to use this group of metals], it is prohibited. We’re confident we’ll be able to make a good decision that way.
April Baer: What is in front of us in terms of the long-term rules under which glassmakers like Bullseye will be permitted to operate?
Keith Johnson: There are a couple of efforts underway right now. The first is more of a near-term rule making — the effort to take the temporary rules for glass facilities and make them permanent. Whether or not that is successful, this agreement will still apply, if, for some reason, the rules expire. The bigger picture is the Cleaner Air Oregon process — more of a reform effort. We’re looking at a whole new regulatory process that’s based on human health for all point sources. There’ll be public input opportunities for the temporary and permanent rule making.
April Baer: It looks like this ends the cease and desist order. Bullseye says they have been making limited amounts of reds, oranges and yellows in their bagged furnace.
Keith Johnson: Right, the cease and desist order is about using these materials in uncontrolled furnaces. They do have a baghouse. I understand it’s attached to one furnace. If it’s operating as it’s supposed to, there’s nothing to say they can’t operate in that furnace as they will. This is about uncontrolled furnaces.
April Baer: Do you feel like DEQ knows what it needs to know to be the regulator the neighbors want it to be?
Keith Johnson: We feel much smarter than we were about this industry. Will there be things in the future we’ll need to learn? Yeah. There are still some issues with regard to Cr+6 (hexavalent chromium) in that area that we’re trying to shake down, not just with Bullseye but with other industries. We’re trying to put lessons learned to good practice. We think we can work with them to ensure their processes support the goals of this agreement. We’re confident that will happen.
April Baer: Is this agreement much like DEQ’a agreement with Uroboros?
Keith Johnson: This agreement goes further. It has additional restrictions on use of unfiltered furnaces, and some things about operational information that the Uroboros agreement does not have. None of these agreements are going to supersede our rules. The temporary rules require all these furnaces, if they use metals, to be controlled by September 1st, no matter what.