Two Portland glass companies to stop using chromium, cadmium, ar - KPTV - FOX 12

Two Portland glass companies to stop using chromium, cadmium, arsenic

Posted: Updated:
DEQ requested both Bullseye Glass Co. and Uroboros Glass voluntarily cease use of all chromium compounds until further notice. DEQ requested both Bullseye Glass Co. and Uroboros Glass voluntarily cease use of all chromium compounds until further notice.
Bullseye Glass co-founder Dan Schwoerer said, "We are concerned that DEQ's frantic actions could put us out of business and cause 140 people to lose their jobs." Bullseye Glass co-founder Dan Schwoerer said, "We are concerned that DEQ's frantic actions could put us out of business and cause 140 people to lose their jobs."
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

First arsenic and cadmium, now chromium. 

The DEQ says they’re concerned each of those toxins could be in Portland’s air at higher levels than they’d like, prompting them to ask two glass companies to stop using the heavy metals all together. 

In a press conference held at the Oregon Health Authority headquarters Friday, the DEQ said they asked both Bullseye Glass Company and Uroboros Glass to provide a list of a materials that they use on their property.

The DEQ says after they got a copy of that list this week, they discovered that both companies were using compounds containing chromium.  Based on their knowledge of current cadmium and arsenic levels, administrators say they asked those companies to stop using chromium too.

The DEQ now admits they’re uncertain about the chromium compound emissions in the air coming from both companies.  

The problem, they say, is that current federal regulations do not require the companies to differentiate between which types of chromium they’re emitting. 

That means the DEQ can’t tell if there’s a higher level of a common and safe form of chromium in the air, known as chromium 3. Or, a type of chromium that can cause lung cancer, chromium 6.  

Most likely, they say, it’s some type of mixture of both.

“We want to be very careful about how we share information so that it doesn’t create alarm if it isn’t needed,” said DEQ Administrator Nina DeConcini. “That’s why we’re doing it today, as opposed to three or four weeks from now when we have the data.”

Both Bullseye Glass Company and Uroboros Glass have voluntarily stopped the use of chromium compounds, until new DEQ testing can show the exact level of each type of chromium they’re emitting.

“It’s astounding as an Oregonian and person who lives in Portland,” said Neighbors for Clean Air President Mary Peveto.  “You’d think the system is not rigged against communities and kids because of where we are at on this.”

Peveto says she’s been lobbying for stricter regulations in Portland for years. She believes now more than ever, people need to rally together and push for change in the way heavy metals are monitored.

“We have a real moment in time to act on this, there will be a hearing in Salem on February 23rd and we want everybody to join us down there,” said Peveto. “We have a petition online on whatsinourair.org and we want people to sign it and join us in Salem. They need to see that people care and expect things to change.”

No one from Uroboros Glass was able to be reached for comment on Friday night, but Bullseye Glass issued this statement to FOX 12:

“ In response to a personal request from Oregon DEQ Director Dick Pedersen, Bullseye Glass Company suspends the use of hexavalent chromium, an industry standard material lawful to use under the company’s existing air quality discharge permit and DEQ’s own regulations.

Company officials expressed confusion over the latest in a series of events undertaken by DEQ this week. According to company co-founder Dan Schwoerer, Director Pederson called a Bullseye employee at around 1:30pm on February 11th with a personal request that the company stop using chromium, an essential element in artisanal glass-making. Pederson made this request despite DEQ’s inability to provide any direct evidence that Bullseye was a significant source of chromium. In fact, DEQ’s own monitoring data from October 2015 showed peak levels of chromium on days when Bullseye’s factory was idle.

The company has asked DEQ for information on the human health, scientific or legal basis of its request, which came less than 24 hours prior to the release of an Oregonian editorial critical of DEQ. As recently as February 10th, DEQ assured both Bullseye and the public that the company operates in compliance with its air quality discharge permit and DEQ’s own regulations. Bullseye has regularly reported its use of chromium, as well as other industry standard materials, to state regulators for more than 20 years.

Company co-founder Dan Schwoerer said, ‘Bullseye Glass has been a conscientious member of SE Portland and of the broader artisan glass community for more than 40 years. We not only work here, more than half of our employees also live and have raised their families here. We and OSHA regularly monitor conditions within our facilities to protect our employees. We have a great track record for safety. We are committed to doing the right thing. We are concerned that DEQ’s frantic actions could put us out of business and cause 140 people to lose their jobs.’

DEQ now says it has been acutely aware of this issue for many years, but has not informed the public of any potential health risks, or alerted producers like Bullseye of any need to modify their operations until today. The company is committed to continuing to working with DEQ to resolve this situation.”

The DEQ says they should be done gathering their latest round of samples by Feb. 19 and it will take about two weeks for the lab to complete their testing.  At that point DEQ will share the results of those tests. 

There will also be another community forum on Thursday, Feb. 18 at Tubman School from 5pm to 9pm. Officials say they will stay as long as it takes to address public concern.

Earlier in the week Oregon Governor Kate Brown demanded answers from the DEQ about the risk to the public and wanted a plan of action by Friday. 

But, the DEQ tells FOX 12 because they’re now looking into chromium use, in addition to arsenic and cadmium levels, they are still working on that plan.

They add that they will work through the weekend to give answers to Governor Brown and the public.

Copyright 2016 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
 

  • Two Portland glass companies to stop using chromium, cadmium, arsenicMore>>

  • DEQ releases preliminary map of heavy metal emissions

    DEQ releases preliminary map of heavy metal emissions

    Saturday, February 6 2016 1:06 AM EST2016-02-06 06:06:10 GMT

    The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality released a map Friday outlining the preliminary areas in southeast Portland where concentration of heavy metals including cadmium are “potentially at levels of concern.”

    More >

    The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality released a map Friday outlining the preliminary areas in southeast Portland where concentration of heavy metals including cadmium are “potentially at levels of concern.”

    More >
Powered by Frankly
FOX 12
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2017, KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation, Portland, OR . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.