PORTLAND, Ore. – Gov. Kate Brown has extended the cease and desist order for a Portland glass company after high levels of lead were found at a nearby day care.
Gov. Brown ordered Bullseye Glass to limit the use of toxic heavy metals, including lead, through June 8. The first cease and desist was issued May 19 and lasted for 10 days.
Air monitoring results at Children's Creative Learning Center on May 19 showed lead levels in the area were four times above the 24-hour benchmark, an immediate, short-term health risk, the governor's office said.
Brown said she extended the cease and desist partly because Bullseye suggested the lead was not coming from the glass company. The DEQ said it is confident Bullseye is the source.
In addition, Bullseye did not sign a legally binding agreement that would have avoided the need for a cease and desist, the governor's office said.
“I will continue this prohibition on the use of toxic metals in uncontrolled furnaces as long as necessary to protect the well-being of children at the nearby daycare center and other residents,” Brown said.
Bullseye Glass announced last weekend that it has been forced to cut back employee hours after the first cease and desist order.
The cutbacks are equivalent to laying off more than 15 employees, according to Bullseye Vice President Jim Jones.
Jones previously told KGW additional cease and desist orders would force him to "make additional permanent cuts."
"We are in the process of installing a much larger, multi-furnace, filtration system, but that work will not be completed until the beginning of August," he said. "We understand the DEQ’s concerns over the recent spikes in lead levels on two days, but we believe that there is a way to work together to find a safe path forward."
As part of the order, Bullseye Glass must temporarily stop its use of lead, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, selenium and all chromium compounds in any uncontrolled furnace. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will continue monitoring the toxics in the air.
The monitoring is part of Gov. Brown’s new initiative Cleaner Air Oregon, a joint effort by the DEQ and Oregon Health Authority to apply new air quality standards.
The Multnomah County Health Department said they are concerned about the impact lead exposure can have on children. A lead screening clinic was held in Southeast Portland the day after the initial cease and desist order.
The Children's Creative Learning Center told KGW in a statement:
We are grateful for the immediate action the Governor took to direct DEQ to compel Bullseye Glass to suspend their use of heavy metals in an uncontrolled furnace. Although we are frustrated by the repeated emissions in our neighborhood, we appreciate the Governor’s swift action, and we are also doing what we can to ensure the health and safety of the children, families, and staff at our center:
• We sent out a letter informing our center families and staff about the recent air quality issue tonight.
• We will have experts from Oregon Health Authority, DEQ, and the Multnomah County Health Department available to talk with our families.
• The Multnomah County Health Department has offered to test lead levels for all center children free of charge, and we are working with them to coordinate those details.
We will continue to partner with Oregon Health Authority and other agencies to determine if there are any further steps we need to take to keep our children, families, and staff safe.
Bullseye Glass has faced criticism since the DEQ in February said the company was likely the source for a toxic hot spot in Southeast Portland.
Mayor Charlie Hales issued the following statement in response to recent air quality findings near the Bullseye Glass plant:
“We Portlanders believe we have a right to a clean environment, but the continuing reports of toxics in our air compromise our sense of safety, as well as our health. I share our neighbors’ concern and outrage, and I encourage all families in the area to take advantage of any testing the state and county make available.“I appreciate Gov. Brown ordering the plant to stop using lead for 10 days. However, it must remain out of use until we can assure our community of clean air. I will continue to work with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury to hold the state accountable, and ensure we are on a path toward clean air for all Portlanders.
“We should redouble our efforts in state and local government to make sure that NO businesses in our city are poisoning the environment of our green, family-friendly city. There is zero tolerance for endangering children’s health.”