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EPA Fines Oakland Glass Maker $200,000 for Air Violations

Release Date: 4/15/2003
Contact Information: Leo Kay, 415-947-4306

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the result of a recent settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an Oakland, Calif. glass manufacturer will pay $200,000 for numerous air quality violations discovered at its facility in the mid-1990s.

The EPA cited Owens Brockway Glass Container, Inc. in East Oakland for allegedly failing to meet federal opacity standards 192 times from July 1994 to November 1997. During the same period of time, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District took enforcement action and fined the company for the opacity violations.

Owens Brockaway has since improved its preventative maintenance program and no longer violates the opacity standard.

"Today's announcement essentially closes the book on a series of long-running environmental violations that potentially endangered the health of East Oakland residents," said Jack Broadbent, director of the EPA's Air Division in San Francisco. "Owens Brockaway implemented corrective measures that have improved the facility 's compliance with air regulations."

Glass manufacturing processes produce particulate emissions from raw materials that vaporize during the melting process and then condense in the exhaust stack. Frequent monitoring of the opacity of smokestack emissions prevents excess emissions of particulates that can penetrate deep into lungs and cause respiratory problems, ranging from short-term coughs and wheezing to serious diseases such as emphysema.

The EPA measures opacity from smokestacks by shining a light through the emissions. If only 80 percent of the light passes through, the opacity is 20 percent. All of Owens Brockway's 192 alleged violations were for 20 percent opacity or greater, with many nearing 40 percent.

The emissions at Owens Brockway, which has manufactured glass food and beverage containers at this location since the 1930's, come from three glass melting furnaces.