April 14, 2016
We are still in the midst of a firestorm of misleading media and hasty government overhaul of regulations. Wildly inaccurate or barely researched ‘journalism’ continues to frighten the population in Portland in the media’s never ending hunt for big lurid headlines, and federal and state authorities scramble to rewrite and impose new rules for glassmakers in the U.S. To get detailed and less partial information than what is being published as ‘news’, please refer to the official information posted on the joint Oregon Health Authority/DEQ website at SaferAir.Oregon.gov to stay updated on this hot button issue.
We’ve all been following this story closely, so we’re trying our best to provide you with the latest updates from the trenches, as we strive to ensure our production does not cause any harm to our neighbors and our environment. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
What are the facts and the latest government regulations?
- There are still no air or soil tests conclusively linking Uroboros Glass activities to excessive or even detectable emissions of heavy metals.
- Along with other colored glassmakers in Oregon, we are still under an OR-DEQ enforced suspension of production of all colors containing cadmium or chromium. Unfortunately, these two elements are required to produce about two-thirds of the colors we normally make.
- In March, we signed a written operating agreement authorizing our current limited operations with OR-DEQ. Our intention is to cooperate with the authorities regarding our operations, as we have always done.
- This week the EPA decided to reinterpret their own regulations for the glass industry’s smallest members. They are now insisting that all colored glassmakers in our industry become subject to Title V and NESHAP 6S permitting requirements. This changes the original NESHAP 6S author’s published interpretations as well as five State regulator’s interpretations of the 6S rules that exempted Uroboros Glass and the other colored glassmakers over the last nine years. As a result, DEQ has already directed Uroboros and Bullseye to obtain these permits. The timeline to meet the new requirement is still unclear. (Read the DEQ press release here.)
- We do not dispute the appropriateness of this new interpretation of NESHAP 6S qualification requirements. The terms are close to the agreement we already have with DEQ, so we are already at work to accommodate the DEQ request and to meet this new requirement as soon as is feasible.
What is Uroboros doing to get back into production?
In addition to working with authorities to interpret their intentions, we are still working closely with two internationally experienced furnace filtration equipment manufacturers to determine the optimum solution for our unique furnaces. We are getting close to having final specifications and prices in hand to fully control emissions from our furnaces.
These are complicated and very expensive systems requiring significant engineering to guarantee that they will do the required job for years and decades without failures. We have chosen to take our time to carefully and professionally design a long lasting solution for a matter of this importance. Once a commitment is made and funding is secured, we expect the installation process to take about 3 months.
What can we do about this risk to our industry?
Raise a fuss with your legislators. Contact your senators and congressmen and make sure they are aware of this risk to our unique American manufacturing specialty- colored and decorative glassmakers. They need to know:
- The stained and colored glass industry is a small, but home grown American manufacturing phenomenon. It’s unique in the world, provides steady manufacturing jobs for American workers, and is an exporting industry as well.
- This industry of just six manufacturers is facing $2.5-3.5 million of capital investment due to regulatory changes with no advance warning. This investment may too much for several of them to bear.
- The public’s help is needed for them to meet the goals of the new regulations in such a short time frame.
Raise a fuss in the media. Give them some new talking points to help balance the news about ‘toxic air’. They need to know:
- The industry is willing to meet new regulations, but it needs reasonable time to do so.
- The manufacturers are all owned by single individuals who work daily at their plants, or their families. They don’t have the resources of publicly traded corporations to simply pay up and move on.
- These manufacturers supply thousands of other businesses and craftsmen who depend on their unique glass styles to complete their work. They are now at risk of being put out of work themselves.
- The very suppliers who have created the iconic glass of the American stained glass legacy are at risk due to this situation.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Uroboros and your devotion to the American art glass industry.