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Uroboros Glass agrees to restrict use of toxic metals

COURTESY OF KOIN 6 NEWS - Workers at Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland handle molten glass. Uroboros Glass in North Portland has agreed to install control devices to prevent some gasses to escape during the manufacturing process.Uroboros Glass Studios of North Portland reached an agreement Wednesday with state environmental regulators to restrict the use of cadmium, chromium and nickel, metals that have been found in the air in parts of Portland.

The 10-page agreement announced March 16 with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality will restrict the use of the chemicals to protective levels determined by the Oregon Health Authority.

Uroboros has not used arsenic for more than 20 years, and this agreement establishes a formal commitment to refrain from the use of arsenic. The agreement also establishes new conditions specific to Uroboros' operation that must be met before operations using these metals can resume, according to state officials.

“We appreciate Uroboros' cooperation in reaching this agreement so it can return to partial operations under new conditions that are protective of public health,” said DEQ Acting Director Joni Hammond. “This agreement is critical in filling a regulatory gap that persists until temporary rules are adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission and is a necessary step to ensure public health is protected as the public rulemaking process is carried out.”

No risks to children

Uroboros Glass Studios and Bullseye Glass of Southeast Portland have come under scrutiny in the past month after tests last year by U.S. Forest Service researchers discovered high levels of cadmium in the moss on trees near the glass-making facilities.

State testing discovered high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air around the plants. The glass makers are thought to be the source of the materials, but researchers have not pinpointed where the substances originated.

A test of soil samples in neighborhoods around the plants found little danger to children or adults, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission is taking public comment until March 30 on temporary rules to address air toxics from colored art glass manufacturers. The issue will be discussed by the commission April 20 and 21 in Portland.

Under the agreement, Uroboros Glass will:

• Install emission control devices on glass-making furnaces that use arsenic, cadmium, chromium or nickel.

• Commit to not using arsenic, cadmium, chromium VI in raw materials in any uncontrolled glass-making furnace.

• Stop using chromium III and chromium VI until DEQ establishes maximum allowable chromium III and chromium VI usage rates.

• Limit the use of nickel from uncontrolled glass-making furnaces.

• Maintain records of all batches produced and provide to DEQ the daily amount of metals used.

“We appreciate the steps DEQ and Uroboros are taking to protect public health by controlling emissions of toxic metals,” said Lynne Saxton, director of the Oregon Health Authority. “Our health scientists have reviewed the target emission levels proposed in the agreement. Based on current science, emissions at these levels do not pose significant risks to people, including children.”