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Portland Glassmaker Signs Agreement On Heavy Metals Pollution Controls


Uroboros Glass in Northeast Portland

Uroboros Glass in Northeast Portland

Bryan M. Vance/OPB

Uroboros Glass has signed an agreement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality that prohibits the use of cadmium, chromium and nickel to protect public health until pollution controls can be installed on the company’s furnaces.

The company is one of two artistic glassmaking companies in Portland that have been linked to heavy metal hot spots detected in moss samples. Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland has also agreed to avoid using certain metals detected near its facility and announced plans to install a pollution control device, but does not have a signed agreement with DEQ.

The agreement adds conditions Uroboros must meet before it can resume operations using certain metals, including installing and testing one or more pollution control devices to reduce emissions of metals on furnaces that use arsenic, cadmium, chromium or nickel. The company hasn’t used arsenic in more than 20 years and agreed to continue that practice.

The company’s commitments functions as a stopgap to prevent harmful metals emissions until DEQ approves new air pollution rules for glassmakers, but it also provides the company with a path to resuming operations. The Environmental Quality Commission decided Tuesday to postpone voting on new rules by about a month to allow two weeks of public comment. The agency said it may be working with other glassmakers, including Bullseye Glass, on similar agreements.

Uroboros President Eric Lovell declined to comment.

DEQ announced the agreement Wednesday. It is effective immediately, and will last for five years or until new rules kick in. In a news release, DEQ Acting Director Joni Hammond said she appreciates the company’s cooperation.

“This agreement is critical in filling a regulatory gap that persists until temporary rules are adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission and is a necessary step to ensure public health is protected as the public rulemaking process is carried out.”

The EQC is taking public comment until March 30 on temporary rules that require pollution controls on glassmaking furnaces that handle cadmium, arsenic, chromium and nickel. The board is scheduled to revisit the rules at its meeting April 20-21 in Portland. Uroboros will be subject to those rules, as well.

Terms of the agreement include that Uroboros:  

•   Install one or more emission control devices to control all glass-making furnaces that use arsenic, cadmium, chromium or nickel to protect public exposure to these metals from production and test an emission control device to ensure proper operation.  

•   Commit to not using arsenic, cadmium, chromium VI in raw materials in any uncontrolled glass-making furnace.  

•   Cease the use of chromium III and chromium VI in a controlled or uncontrolled glass-making furnace until DEQ establishes maximum allowable chromium III and chromium VI usage rates that will not result in ambient concentrations that exceed levels that put public health at risk.  

•   Limit the use of nickel from uncontrolled glass-making furnaces to a level that does not exceed a Maximum Weekly Usage limit.  

•   Maintain daily records of all batches produced and provide to DEQ the daily amount of metals used.  

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