PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined the state’s largest glass container recycler over $1 million for repeated air quality violations.
The agency said last week it had issued a $1.03 million fine to Owens-Brockway, a subsidiary of glass manufacturing giant O-I Glass Inc., The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The state said the fine was issued after the company repeatedly failed to adhere to the emissions standards required under its permit.
“O-I is aware of the announcement and is currently reviewing the scope but cannot provide comment on pending regulatory or legal matters,” O-I Glass spokesperson Jim Woods told the newspaper in an email.
This is the ninth time that Owens-Brockway has been fined by the state for air quality violations since 2004. While the state could revoke the company’s permit for ongoing violations, Oregon depends heavily on Owens-Brockway to be able to recycle glass containers.
Owens-Brockway’s Portland plant is the only large glass container manufacturing plant in Oregon, according to Harry Esteve, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
A glass melting furnace at the Portland plant exceeded the state’s particulate matter limit during three tests from May 2019 to August 2020, according to the state enforcement notice. The company has exceeded opacity limits — the degree to which visibility is lessened by pollution — at two glass melting furnaces at least 50 times since 2009, according to the state. Opacity is an indicator of particulate matter being released into the air which can cause serious health problems, according to an enforcement notice from the state.
Emissions from the furnace also exceeded the state’s opacity limit during tests in April 2020 and March 2021, and the company failed to notify the state of the violations in a timely manner, according to the state enforcement notice.
The company was also supposed to submit a risk assessment report and work plan to the state by May 21 to comply with the Cleaner Air Oregon program but missed the deadline, according to the state, which has now asked the company to submit the report by Aug. 19.
The state also said that the company must consider reducing production levels to comply with its permit.