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Gallo Glass sued by state for use of hazardous materials in wine bottles

Post Time:Mar 09,2015Classify:Industry NewsView:503

MODESTO, Calif. (KCRA) —Dangerous dust? That's what the state attorney general's office claims Gallo Glass Company used in the manufacturing of glass wine bottles at its plant in Modesto.

Watch report: Do Gallo wine bottles contain hazardous materials?

According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Department of Toxic Substance Control, California's top prosecutor accuses the company of illegally using recycled hazardous dust laced with lead, arsenic, cadmium and selenium -- all byproducts of bottle making -- by adding the material to other ingredients when producing new wine bottles.


"DTSC promotes and supports legitimate recycling. The department's mission is to protect Californians and their environment from exposure to hazardous waste," deputy director for the Hazardous Waste Management Program Elise Rothschild said Monday. "Facilities that generate hazardous wastes have to handle, store and dispose of them in compliance with our laws. DTSC is ensuring they do."


The Department of Toxic Substance Control has no evidence that consuming wine stored in these bottles poses a health threat.


The contaminated dust is generated by air pollution equipment used to capture regulated pollutants that would otherwise be released into the air from its furnaces.


The plant, which employs more than 800 people, asserts it was recycling the waste by putting it into materials fed into the furnaces and heated to form molten glass used to make bottles.


The company told KCRA 3 it plans to fight the litigation against it.


"This lawsuit has no merit," the company said in a statement. "The Gallo Glass plant is a state-of-the-art facility recognized around the world for its advanced pollution control technologies and environmentally sustainable practices, which the state is inexplicably challenging in this lawsuit."


The complaint alleges that Gallo failed to demonstrate that its practices qualify as recycling under California law; that it also did not comply with requirements for legitimate recycling; and it improperly stored a large volume of hazardous waste dust in a manner that presented a potential risk to public health.


"I wouldn't want to drink any kind of wine out of it," Modesto resident Jack Stout said. "They say, 'Oh it doesn't pose a threat,' but how do you know? You start drinking in arsenic in small levels and then all of a sudden it goes up and you start having health problems later. People are wondering what's going on."


Gallo's operations generate hundreds of pounds of hazardous dust a day. The violations were discovered during inspections in 2009 and 2011.


In May 2014, the Department of Toxic Substance Control said the company agreed to stop using the hazardous waste in the manufacturing of bottles, but in an email to KCRA 3, Gallo Glass Company referred to the recycling practices as if they're ongoing.


"The use of precipitate in glass making is recognized throughout the world as the environmentally sustainable best practice -- and its use in the glass-making process eliminates the need to transport and dispose of it in landfills," it said. "Yet, the state of California now wants to require us to discard the precipitate in a disposal site instead of productively using it -- a position which is in direct conflict with California's recycling goals and the state's own exemptions from the Hazardous Waste Control Law."


Gallo said it's been trying to resolve the matter for more than five years, but the state of California has refused to provide it with any proposals; instead, Gallo says the state has unilaterally cut off negotiations and sued the company.


Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste said it too has had disagreements with Gallo on recycling issues throughout the years, but added, "with that said, today's news release from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control would appear to reveal nothing more than a long simmering case of 'Legal Egos', rather than any real threat to public health or the environment."


Murray added, “If the department did suspect some kind of threat posed by their 2009 'discovery' at Gallo Glass, one would hope they would not have waited five years to make it public."


The Gallo Glass Company was built in 1958 and manufactures all bottles used by E&J Gallo wines, as well as other companies.



The company consists of about two million square feet of warehousing, has a truck fleet of 150 and produces bottles in four different colors.


The California-based manufacturer said it has a strong environmental record and provides hundreds of jobs in the Central Valley.


"We look forward to our day in court," the company said.

Source: http://www.kcra.com/news/california-sues-glass-comAuthor: shangyi

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