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Friday, June 17, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "IDEM initiates pollution tests around Kokomo Opalescent Glass"

Updating an ILB post from May 31st headed "'EPA accuses Kokomo Opalescent Glass of violating air pollution permit' Historic Indiana company made glass for Tiffany," Carson Gerber of the Kokomo Tribune reported on June 15th - some quotes:

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has begun conducting tests around Kokomo Opalescent Glass to determine if the art-glass manufacturer is emitting hazardous amounts of potentially toxic materials.

IDEM completed soil tests around the facility last month to determine whether the company was emitting dangerous amounts of pollutants as part of a national investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency into art-glass facilities around the country.

The EPA started the investigation in February after a glass factory in Oregon was found to be releasing dangerous amounts of toxic metals.

That investigation led the EPA to investigate KOG, which is the nation's oldest manufacturer of opalescent glass. The EPA determined KOG was violating the Clean Air Act by failing to obtain a federal permit that regulates glass manufacturers.

The EPA alleged the violation had resulted in the company emitting elevated amounts of metals into the air.

IDEM ended up taking samples from nine different locations at or near KOG to test for elevated amounts of potentially toxic metals such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver.

The tests revealed slightly elevated levels of arsenic at five locations, including at two houses located directly west of the facility on the 1300 block of South Union Street.

The arsenic levels there were slightly above the residential soil direct contact levels set by the EPA, which are conservative calculations of how clean a site should be to be appropriate for residential use.

However, Barry Sneed, a public information officer with IDEM, noted arsenic is a naturally occurring element in Indiana soil, and many areas of the state have levels above those set by the EPA.

He said the arsenic levels around KOG do not pose a health hazard to residents. * * *

Besides arsenic, no other metals were discovered above the limits set by the EPA.

IDEM now plans to set up air monitoring equipment around the facility to further test for elevated pollution levels. * * *

Sneed said the end game for all the testing is to help the EPA and IDEM determine if emissions from the KOG plant may be a threat to human health or the environment.

He said the soil testing so far indicates that the facility is not a threat.

Elliott said the company is now working with the EPA “to identify potential steps that will confirm our facility is not emitting impermissible levels of pollutants.”

Those steps were discussed during a meeting on May 16 between KOG officials and the EPA set to address the agency’s allegations that the company should be required to obtain a federal Title V permit, which would increase the amount of oversight and air-pollution regulations the company has to follow.

“At the meeting, we were able to bring new information to the agency’s attention regarding the way KOG’s processes and unique equipment design dramatically minimize undesirable emissions, and how these facts impact the applicability of relevant federal regulations,” Elliott said.

In a letter sent to the EPA before the conference, KOG said that it uses 12 individual, insulated pot furnaces that don’t release any materials through its stacks during the glass-making process.

The company also argued it should not be required to obtain a federal permit because it does not operate a continuously operated furnace, which would make it subject to federal regulations.

“As a leader in the United States’ colored glass manufacturing industry, KOG’s continued compliance with those requirements applicable to its operations is of the utmost importance, and the company hopes to work with the agency to address these allegations,” the letter states.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 17, 2016 01:52 PM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government | Indiana economic development