A U.S. Forest Service study of heavy metals found trapped in moss tipped environmental regulators off to serious problems with toxic emissions coming from Bullseye Glass in Portland, OR.
Upon further investigation of documents released under Oregon’s open records law, it was revealed that the artistic glass manufacturer had been receiving complaints for decades.
Complaints ranged from reports of plumes of dark smoke and glass particles and hot ash escaping to the air to suspicious smells coming from the factory.
One glass maker expressed concerns about the lack of air pollution controls for the metals coming out of the facility’s furnaces. No investigation of the Bullseye emissions had been completed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
In 2005, Fred Cresswell, the founder of Seaview Art Glass in Cazadero, Cailiforn, wrote to EPA regulators, highly critical of the Bullseye facility and its “gross violations of emissions standards as well as the contaminated wash down water into and on to the City of Portland.”
Yet the complaints that Cresswell continually filed were lost in a bureaucratic paper trail, and he died in 2011 before they any actual investigations.
However, in February of this year, both Bullseye Glass and Uroboros Glass in North Portland, announced that they would alter their production processes this week in response to the growing serious concerns about the factory’s effects on air quality and health.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality believes that Bullseye was responsible for high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the area, levels of which raise the cancer risk from one in a million people, to one in only 10,000.
Since Bullseye has passed two DEQ tests in the past year, officials are investigating why the existing environmental standards don’t properly control the emissions of metal.
The cutbacks in the use of certain chemicals could have far reaching effects on the glass studio art industry, which was founded by Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino at the Toldeo Museum of Art in 1962.
Since Bullseye, the lead supplier in art glass for fusing projects, suspended the production of 26 colors on Feb. 4, many studios have been running low on supplies.
Brenda Page, who runs Blue Dog Glass in Australia said, “The story broke around in the colors that were being suspended. We’re pretty much sold out of our reds and yellow glasses at the moment.”
Both Bullseye and Uroboros are working on solutions to their furnace emissions while glass artists, teachers, and studio spaces wait for a new shipments of their dwindling colors.
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