Portland glass recycler fined for water monitoring violations
Oregon environmental regulators recently fined the state's largest recycler of glass containers located near Portland's Cully neighborhood for water quality monitoring violations.
The company, Owens-Brockway Glass Container, Inc., has a permit to release stormwater runoff that goes to Columbia Slough from its facility at 9710 N.E. Glass Plant Rd. The Columbia Slough is a 19-mile long waterway in the former floodplain of the Columbia River.
Company officials failed to collect and monitor stormwater runoff from three locations at the facility in 2020 as required under its permit, officials with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced last month.
Additionally, company officials didn't analyze collected stormwater samples for certain pollutants as required on one occasion in 2020, DEQ officials said.
The violations amounted to a nearly $16,000 fine, according to a notice sent to the company by DEQ on Jan. 21. Prior water quality violations at the site were factored in when calculating the penalty amount, the notice shows.
"Monitoring may reveal the presence of harmful levels of pollutants that pose a threat to waters of the state," the notice read. "In addition, monitoring allows Permit registrants to gauge the effectiveness of stormwater controls and best management practices at reducing levels of pollutants in industrial stormwater discharges."
A spokesman for Owens-Brockway declined to comment because the enforcement action is ongoing.
All industrial facilities that discharge stormwater into Oregon waterways must collect runoff samples and analyze them for pollutants four times per year under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.
Owen-Brockway collected and analyzed stormwater samples for pollutants, including E. Coli, phosphorus, iron and suspended solids, at two discharge points only three of the required four times during the 2019-20 monitoring year, the penalty notice shows.
Also, the company missed an analysis for several additional pollutants from another discharge point during the same monitoring period, according to the notice. Furthermore, two stormwater samples collected from one discharge point weren't analyzed for the pollutants oil and grease as required during the 2020-2021 monitoring year, DEQ officials said.
DEQ officials increased the agency's base fine for those violations because Owens-Brockway committed five other similar violations at the Portland facility in cases dating back to 2018 and 2015, the penalty notice shows.
The agency allows violators to appeal such penalties, but Owens-Brockway hasn't submitted an appeal, said Lauren Wirtis, spokesperson for DEQ, in an email.
Owens-Brockway is a subsidiary of Ohio-based I-O Glass, Inc., one of the largest glass manufacturers in the world.
A DEQ spokesperson told The Oregonian/OregonLive last year that the company's Portland facility is valuable in Oregon's recycling system because it's the only glass processor in the state capable of taking mixed color glass collected through curbside recycling programs.
Owens-Brockway recently faced a more than $1 million fine for air pollution violations at the facility.
Last fall, officials from DEQ and Owens-Brockway reached an agreement requiring the company to install air pollution controls by the end of 2023. The company may be forced to shut down, however, if it doesn't make progress toward pollution controls by mid-2022.
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