The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will accept comments for one more week on permanent rules for the state’s colored art glass industry.
Two major players and three small companies are located in Portland. The two larger companies’ air emissions have been under scrutiny since large concentrations of heavy metals were found in moss near their operations.
DEQ has temporary rules in place. Both the two larger makers — Bullseye Glass and Uroboros — are working on installing baghouse filters on furnaces they used to process heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic, to comply with DEQ’s orders.
DEQ said it’s unlikely the permanent rules will look much different in terms of filtering, but the agency is trying to settle two remaining issues: Should the rules cover companies making fewer than 10 tons of glass per year? Should the rules apply statewide?
Abe Fleishman is the owner of Northstar Glassworks, one of the three smaller companies affected by the rules. Speaking at a public hearing last week, he suggested DEQ must pass rules that cover glass production of every kind, or risk creating a loophole for very small shops.
“Let’s say, for Northstar, if we wanted to skirt this rule,” Fleishman said, “we could set up garage shops all over the state here and produce small amounts of colored glass, and potentially pollute a small part of a local environment.”
For Northstar, an exception for smaller makers might present an open flank to potential competitors, although Fleishman said he’s not aware of any companies outside of Portland stepping forward to take advantage of the production slowdown caused by DEQ’s temporary rules.
Chris Mini, the owner of a small architectural glass shop in Eugene also testified, asking DEQ not to lump glass forming studios, where glass is shaped, baked, or blown, with glass makers who fabricate the raw materials for art glass.
DEQ’s rule writer said he was aware of the concerns, and believes the existing language will not drive smaller shops out of business.
The governing body that oversees DEQ could vote on the permanent rules as soon as late September.