Portland Community Lands Long-Awaited Public Health Victory in Owens-Brockway Case
Owens-Brockway, one of Portland’s largest stationary sources of pollution, announced today that the facility has agreed to comply with a state order by installing pollution controls to reduce harmful emissions that have put neighboring communities at escalating human health risk.
The glass manufacturing plant, located in northeast Portland, entered into an agreement back in October 2021 with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to settle an enforcement action that the agency brought against Owens-Brockway for repeatedly violating Clean Air Act requirements. As part of the settlement agreement, Owens-Brockway had the option to either shut down or install pollution controls that reduce its emissions of particulate matter by 95% and was obligated to announce its decision by June 30.
By electing to continue operating, Owens-Brockway must now install pollution controls within 18 months of approval and provide monthly progress reports to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
“It has taken years, but this announcement is a significant step forward for addressing the harmful air pollution affecting the vibrant and culturally rich communities neighboring Owens-Brockway. We will continue to closely monitor the facility’s progress to reduce air pollution and support community advocates in ensuring that Owens-Brockway installs the most health-protective pollution controls,” said Ashley Bennett, attorney at Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm partnering with several Portland organizations.
“Owens-Brockway plays a significant role in our state and local recycling economy so we’re glad to hear that the plant has decided to take steps to ensure that its operations do not further harm the neighboring communities,” said Jamie Pang, environmental health program director at Oregon Environmental Council.
“This has been a long-awaited win for public health in the Cully neighborhood. Owens-Brockway has violated clean and healthy air standards for years,” said Gregory Sotir from Cully Air Action Team (CAAT), a community-based, grassroots air quality group in the Cully neighborhood of northeast Portland. “While we must ensure that the best available controls installed do remove the contaminants affecting our airstream, we are happy that the facility will remain in the community and continue to provide union jobs for residents.”
“For years we’ve been pushing Owens-Brockway to install pollution controls that will protect public health,” said Mary Peveto, executive director at Neighbors for Clean Air. “We are glad to see that Owens-Brockway is investing in the community and finally taking steps to ensure that residents and the public are not further exposed to dangerous emissions.”
“Verde has been a part of the Cully neighborhood for many years, and the communities we serve are constantly aware of the harmful air they breathe,” explained Oriana Magnera, energy, climate, and transportation program manager at Verde. “Owens-Brockway has polluted our neighborhood and put many people’s health at risk. Although Owens-Brockway is taking an important step to mitigate the harm it has caused to its neighbors, we will hold them accountable and continue to monitor their progress.”
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