Bullseye Glass settles issue of 'dirty rainwater'
On November 21, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reached a settlement with Bullseye Glass Company in Southeast Portland that includes a $15,600 fine for releasing contaminated water from its building's roof into a drywell on its own property. Bullseye went on to clean up the contaminated site.
The heavy metals in the rainwater are believed to have settled on the factory roof before Bullseye installed extensive air filtration systems, and were carried into the drywell by further rain.
A drywell is an underground structure where stormwater runoff is directed from a specific location, to allow it to dissipate slowly; they are commonly found at near large buildings and in parking lots.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, with '10' being the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, and '1' being a leaking heating oil tank in an homeowner's yard, this falls in the range of a '3' to a '4', Paul Seidel, said the acting manager of DEQ's Northwest Region Cleanup Program .
"Overall, for the Oregon DEQ, the technical work of this remediation – while very important – can be considered to be routine," Seidel said.
This matter started, for Bullseye, with soil and groundwater testing from September 1, 2016, through February, 2017, at the Bullseye glass factory, done by the DEQ.
From the testing results, a "Mutual Agreement and Order" – a contract between the DEQ and Bullseye – was written up that specified that all "contaminated dirt" be dug out and properly disposed of, and new groundwater "testing" wells be installed at the site by the end of the year.
However, Bullseye moved quickly, having a certified contractor excavate dirt in and around the drywell, well in advance of the state deadline.
"When we constructed additional buildings at the factory, the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services required us to install the drywell at that time, which we did," explained Bullseye Vice President Jim Jones. "I asked at the time if the rainwater runoff need to be tested, and we learned that there was no requirement for testing.
"When it came to our attention there were metals found in the rainwater runoff, we had certified contractors come here and dig it all out, and are installing 'test wells' to check for future contamination," Jones said.
While some companies fight the DEQ, taking such issues to court, it should be noted that Bullseye reacted immediately to resolve the situation.
"We've always cared about the environment, and we care about Inner Southeast Portland; many of our employees live close by," Jones said. "We want to be good citizens and good neighbors."
While not yet finalized at deadline, Jones said that DEQ regulations allow for a portion of their fines, such as the one levied on Bullseye, to be directed to "supplemental environmental projects".
"In this case, it is possible that $12,400 of the fine we paid will go to support the work of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council," he said.