Bullseye Glass settles air pollution suit for $6.5M

Civic Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In March 2016, a group of Southeast Portland neighbors filed a class action lawsuit against Bullseye Glass Company — saying the local company was responsible for spewing toxic levels of heavy metals into the neighborhood air.

Now, nearly three years later, Bullseye Glass Company has settled the lawsuit for $6.5 million.

According to Bullseye, it created a “qualified settlement fund” which will pay for air quality monitoring for the next two years. The company also said they will pay for reimbursement for soil testing, soil cleanup, residential air purifiers and attorney fees.

A handful of neighbors who live near Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland hand-delivered a letter asking the company shut down until they are sure toxic chemicals are no longer emitted, February 16, 2016 (KOIN)
A handful of neighbors who live near Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland hand-delivered a letter asking the company shut down until they are sure toxic chemicals are no longer emitted, February 16, 2016 (KOIN)

The settlement will allow cash payments for over 2,000 households in Southeast Portland, however, those payments have not yet been determined.

At the time of the lawsuit, neighbors said Bullseye was using “the neighborhood’s air and backyards as a dumping ground for the arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and other toxins it sends up its smokestacks.” 

The lawsuit also claimed the glass-making company had been quietly polluting the neighborhood “with a wide range of chemicals to color or process the glass” since it opened in 1974.

Prior to the lawsuit, the state of Oregon ordered the glass-making company in February 2016 to stop using certain dangerous chemicals after high levels of cadmium and arsenic were detected around the plant.

“So a really great thing that came out of this was the whole Cleaner Air Oregon, which was the statewide regulator overhaul for air toxics,” Jessica Applegate, part of the Eastside Portland Air Coalition, told KOIN 6 News.

Inside Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland, Feb. 16, 2016 (KOIN)
Inside Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland, Feb. 16, 2016 (KOIN)

Bullseye Glass said it has spent more than $2 million on new technology for their furnaces to comply with Cleaner Air Oregon regulations.

Other lawsuits involving Bullseye Glass

Valerie Silva sued the company in June 2016 claiming harmful metals it spewed into the air gave her lung cancer. She was was reportedly diagnosed with terminal stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer in September 2014.

The lawsuit claims Silva never smoked cigarettes and that her cancer was caused by airborne contaminants. Silva’s employer, Fred Meyer, reportedly notified her of high levels of arsenic, cadmium and hexavalent chromium in the air on February 4. The contaminants were emitted from smokestacks at Bullseye Glass just across the street, the lawsuit states.

It’s unclear if the recent $6.5 million settlement includes Silva’s lawsuit.

While Bullseye Glass has been sued by multiple people, it also has a pending lawsuit of its own.

In December 2017, the company filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown and state agencies for $30 million. The lawsuit claims “intentional and reckless damage” was done when the company came under fire for toxic air emissisions. The company filed the multi-million dollar lawsuit and said the toxic air scare has caused irreparable harm to both their business operations and their reputation.

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