The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has lifted a cease and desist order against Southeast Portland’s Bullseye Glass.
The company had been ordered last month to stop using several toxic metals in furnaces without filters after lead emissions were detected at a day care near the art glass maker.
Bullseye signed an agreement with DEQ on Monday that will allow it to resume using some metals if the state agency first approves those uses.
“The agreement, drawing on current regulations as well as additional provisions, prohibits the usage of certain metals in uncontrolled furnaces, including arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and lead,” DEQ officials said in a news release.
The agreement calls for Bullseye to submit information — including an inventory of all its furnaces and glass recipes — to the state. Keith Johnson, a manager in DEQ’s Air Quality Program, says if Bullseye fulfills the terms of the agreement, and if it restricts heavy metals to filtered furnaces, the company can resume some more of its production.
“This agreement,” Johnson said, “I think of it 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 gives controls over the kind of things they can do.”
If Bullseye gets approval from DEQ and the Oregon Health Authority first, it can use metals such as nickel, cobalt, selenium and manganese in furnaces without baghouse filters.
DEQ issued the cease and desist order against Bullseye on May 19 when it first received test results that lead levels near the Children’s Creative Learning Center were over four times the state’s 24-hour screening level.
DEQ stated the terms of the agreement as:
- Bullseye Glass will not use lead, arsenic, cadmium, or hexavalent chromium VI in an uncontrolled furnace.
- Bullseye Glass will submit to DEQ information about its quality assurance, metals usage and production procedures relative to air emission, as well as all testing data.
- The glass company may submit a request to DEQ to use cobalt, manganese, nickel and selenium in an unfiltered furnace by submitting a written request outlining the proposed use but may not proceed without official approval.
- Officials at DEQ and OHA will assess the request and determine if the proposed use of the requested metals constitute a health threat to the community, prior to authorizing any use of these metals.
“The agreement also sets forth stringent reporting requirements that will allow agencies to ensure the facility is operating safely and in compliance,” DEQ stated in its press release.
DEQ officials said if Bullseye violates Monday’s agreement it could face fines, and the company would have been issued another 10-day cease and desist if it hadn’t signed the order.
Neighborhood advocates have campaigned for months seeking more information about the company’s emissions. They were enthusiastic the state’s cease-and-desist order signaled a tougher stance on an industry that was overlooked for years.
But Jessica Applegate with the Eastside Portland Air Coalition says the group feels the agreement is problematic in several ways.
First, Applegate said, “It’s based on self-reporting, and it’s that lack of transparency, and lack of third-party validation that goes against the commitment Governor Brown made.” She called for full disclosure of Bullseye’s production records.
Applegate also says it’s not appropriate for DEQ to open the door for uncontrolled use of nickel, cobalt, selenium and manganese. She says the coalition wants to see the company wait to ramp up production until its pollution controls are fully installed.
Sources close to the negotiations say the company will not have to take its furnaces out of commission to install the required pollution filters, or baghouses. The company declined to comment on the agreement, but sent a statement to customers indicating supplies of many colors would remain low until at least August.
DEQ’s Keith Johnson points out that DEQ’s temporary rulemaking process is still going on, with room for public input.
The agreement says that if DEQ’s temporary rules are less stringent than the terms agreed on this week, Bullseye must abide by whichever set of requirements is more strict.