EPA continues multimillion-dollar crackdown on glass manufacturing

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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The Environmental Protection Agency continued its crackdown on the glass manufacturing sector Monday.

The nation’s largest glass-container manufacturer has agreed to spend an estimated $37.5 million on reducing pollutant emissions after reaching a settlement with the EPA and the Department of Justice. The settlement was the fourth to result from EPA’s initiative to regulate glass manufacturers, which began in 2011.

Owens-Brockway Glass Container, headquartered in Perrysburg, Ohio, and a subsidiary of Owens-Illinois (O-I), must also pay a combined $1.45 million to the federal government and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Equality.

“This agreement will significantly reduce the amount of air pollution, known to cause a variety of environmental and health problems, from the nation’s largest manufacturer of glass containers,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The settlement, the latest in a series of agreements with the glass manufacturing sector, addresses major sources of pollution at facilities located in four states and will mean cleaner air for the people living in those communities.”

The EPA claimed that that the company violated state rules and the federal Clean Air Act by modifying its furnaces without proper permits or pollution control equipment at five of the company’s 19 North American plants.

O-I said it “disputes EPA’s claims,” but agreed to settle. (RELATED: EPA regulations could cost 887,000 jobs per year

“As a leading manufacturer and supplier of glass packaging products, O-I recognizes its responsibilities to the environment and the communities in which it operates. O-I’s policy is to conduct all of its operations in compliance with applicable local, state and federal environmental regulations,” O-I North America spokeswoman Beth Peery said in a statement to The Daily Caller.

“The company has reached an agreement to resolve claims by the EPA that the company violated the Clean Air Act at its plants in Waco, Texas; Muskogee, Okla.; Clarion, Penn.; Crenshaw, Penn.; and Atlanta, Ga.,” Peery said. “While the company disputes EPA’s claims, it has agreed as part of the settlement to install equipment that will reduce air emissions at the plants in Waco, Muskogee, Crenshaw and Atlanta. The Clarion plant was closed in 2010 for unrelated business reasons.”

In late September, Durand Glass Manufacturing Company agreed to spend $9.1 million on monitoring and limiting emissions. In February 2010, Lafarge North America paid a $5 million civil penalty, and Saint-Gobain Containers settled to pay $112 million to reduce emissions.

Glass makers melt recycled glass, limestone, soda ash and other ingredients in furnaces to create a liquid glass mixture that is poured into molds. That melting process releases some pollutants like nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.

The equipment that Owens-Brockway agreed to install is projected to reduce pollutants by 2,500 tons per year.

Unrelated to the furnaces, the EPA tacked on an additional $200,000 fine to pay for new natural gas, propane and hybrid vehicles at the company’s Atlanta plant.

The stock of O-I, whose net sales totaled $1.747 billion in the third quarter of 2012, fell more than 3.25 percent Monday.

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