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Owens-Brockway

Owens-Brockway Glass Plant #21 produces a variety of glass bottles and jars from post-consumer glass and raw materials. This plant has been operating in Portland since 1956.

In April and May 2023, DEQ held a public comment period and public hearing for Owens-Brockway's draft Title V air quality permit. Following comments from EPA, DEQ is in the process of revising this permit and will hold another public comment period in the first quarter of 2024.

Owens-Brockway has been on a hot hold since July 2023, meaning it is not making glass, due to a slowdown in business. Emissions are very low while the facility is in this state, and Owens-Brockway must notify DEQ in writing on the day it resumes glass production.

In December 2023, DEQ approved a seven-week delay in the installation of pollution controls. Owens-Brockway is in the process of securing a City of Portland building permit to begin construction of the controls. DEQ confirmed with the city that this is a reasonable timeframe and that Owens-Brockway has been diligently providing information for its permit. According to the new timeline, the controls must be installed by June 30, 2024. See details about this below in the Enforcement section.

Current actions

Current status:

In April and May 2023, DEQ held a public comment period and public hearing for Owens-Brockway's draft Title V air quality permit. Following comments from EPA, DEQ is in the process of revising this permit and will hold another public comment period in the first quarter of 2024.​​

Background: Owens-Brockway currently has a Title V air quality permit with DEQ. On May 10, 2021, EPA issued an order requiring DEQ to revise Owens-Brockway's Title V air quality permit and/or the permit record in 90 days. Specifically, the order requires DEQ to re-examine how the permit ensures compliance with particulate matter emission limits. DEQ also received a memorandum from EarthJustice on April 24, 2021 that summarized emissions modelling of the facility and raised concerns about the permit's ability to ensure Owens-Brockway did not exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, or NAAQS, for one-hour sulfur dioxide, one-hour nitrogen dioxide and 24-hour PM2.5.

On June 25, 2021, DEQ sent a letter to Owens-Brockway informing the facility of DEQ's intent to reopen its permit in response to EPA's order and to assure compliance with emission limits and NAAQS. In its letter, DEQ requested that the facility provide information that could inform DEQ's permit reopening.

Since then, Owens-Brockway has made a number of submittals. First, Owens-Brockway submitted a permit modification application on July 28, 2021 to remove Furnace A, one of its two remaining glass-making furnaces, from its air quality permit. This permit change would eliminate Owens-Brockway's authorization to operate Furnace A, and signaled the company's intention to keep the furnace permanently shut down. The facility has also requested an opportunity to perform its own NAAQS modelling analysis, and submitted a modelling protocol to DEQ on Sept. 20, 2021. The modelling protocol is currently under review.

Second, on Aug. 9, 2021, the company executed a Regional Haze Stipulated Agreement and Final Order with DEQ, see more information below.

DEQ has also made two visits to the Owens-Brockway plant since the EPA order to verify site conditions and evaluate compliance.

DEQ has asked EPA for an extension of the 90-day deadline to evaluate and incorporate new information into a revised permit and to see if the parties can arrive at a more comprehensive solution. DEQ expects to issue a revised permit later this year that will respond to EPA's order, incorporate the Regional Haze agreement and the final enforcement order, and impose conditions necessary to assure compliance with NAAQS and emission limits.

In January 2022 DEQ approved Owens-Brockway's modeling protocol for demonstrating the facility's level of compliance with short-term National Ambient Air Quality Standards, and Owens-Brockway submitted the results of this modelling. DEQ reviewed the modeling results and concluded that particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from Owens-Brockway will not exceed federal standards. This will require Owens-Brockway to keep glass production below the limits tested in the model. More information about Regional Haze and Enforcement in the dropdown menus below.​

Current status: On March 10, 2022, DEQ approved the final risk assessment for Owens-Brockway. The results reflect uncontrolled operations at the facility and is not representative of risk after the facility completes installation of the combined ceramic filter unit discussed above. The risk assessment results trigger permit requirements and source risk limits. DEQ has incorporated source risk limits and associated permit conditions into the facility's Title V operating permit.​

For information on Owens-Brockway's Cleaner Air Oregon status, visit the facility's project page.​​

​​Regional Haze is a program that large stationary sources of air pollution in Oregon are required to go through in order to determine what reasonable controls are required to improve visibility in certain areas in Oregon and neighboring states. The rules applied to all sources with Title V air quality permits. For general information on Regional Haze, visit DEQ's Regional Haze page.

Current Status: DEQ entered a Stipulated Agreement and Final Order with Owens-Brockway to obtain compliance with Regional Haze on Aug. 9, 2021. Through the order, Owens-Brockway agreed not to operate Furnace A any longer; to accept tighter limits on sitewide emissions of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter by January 2022; and to make further reductions by July 2025. The requirements from this order has been incorporated into the air quality permit as described above.​

BackgroundOn July 23, 2021, the Environmental Quality Commission adopted new and revised rules for Regional Haze emissions control analysis for stationary sources. These rules detail a process that large stationary sources of air pollution in Oregon are required to go through in order to determine what reasonable controls are required to improve visibility in Oregon and neighboring states. The rules applied to all sources with Title V air quality permits.

The rules allow the facility demonstrate compliance through one of the following:

  1. Evaluate emission controls for effectiveness at reducing regional haze emissions and install controls deemed cost effective by DEQ;

  2. Reduce permitted emissions below a specific threshold identified in the rule;

  3. Work with DEQ to identify and install alternative control options that would reduce regional haze pollutants; and/or

  4. Replace emission units with lower-emitting equipment.

On Aug. 9, 2021, DEQ entered a Stipulated Agreement and Final Order with Owens-Brockway to obtain compliance with Regional Haze. Through the order, Owens-Brockway agreed to no longer operate Furnace A, to reduce nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions from Furnace D by January 2022, and to make further reductions by July 2025. Owens-Brockway is working to identify potential methods to reduce emissions from Furnace D. The facility also agreed not to use, restart or rebuild Furnaces B and C without first going through future emissions control analysis.

DEQ incorporated this agreement into its proposed State Implementation Plan for Round II of Regional Haze.

​​Current Status: 

Owens-Brockway has been on a hot hold since July 2023, meaning it is not making glass, due to a slowdown in business. Emissions are very low while the facility is in this state, and Owens-Brockway must notify DEQ in writing on the day it resumes glass production.

In December 2023, DEQ approved a seven-week delay in the installation of pollution controls​. Owens-Brockway is in the process of securing a City of Portland building permit to begin construction of the controls. DEQ confirmed with the City that this is a reasonable timeframe and that Owens-Brockway has been diligently providing information for its permit. According to the new timeline, the controls must be installed by June 30, 2024.

BackgroundIn June 2021, DEQ issued a $1 million civil penalty and order to Owens-Brockway for air quality violations, including ongoing exceedances of the total particulate matter and opacity limits in the permit. In October 2021, DEQ signed an agreement with Owens-Brockway resolving the enforcement action and giving Owens-Brockway two options: install pollution controls or shut down.

In June 2022, Owens-Brockway notified DEQ of their intention to install pollution controls and submitted a Notice of Approval application, permit modification and associated materials. Their application proposes installation of a catalytic ceramic filter, to control particulate matter. In addition, the filter will control emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

In November 2022, DEQ issued Owens-Brockway's construction air quality permit to install its pollution controls. View the presentation from the public hearing. This started the 18-month timeline for Owens-Brockway to complete the installation of controls. Owens-Brockway reports monthly to DEQ on its progress towards installing the controls, and has completed the following milestones in the project since November 2022:

  • February 2023: Execute a contract to install controls – DONE.
  • September 2023: Complete construction drawings. – DONE.
  • Jan. 30, 2024: Begin pollution control installation.
  • June 30, 2024: Pollution controls fully installed. 

Read the monthly progress reports from Owens-Brockway to DEQ:

In addition to installing controls, there are two other things Owens-Brockway has to do:

  • Interim opacity limit. Until Owens-Brockway installs controls, the company will continue to be subject to an interim opacity limit. Opacity is a surrogate for PM, and the limit helps ensure that Owens-Brockway will operate the facility in a manner that reduces PM emissions until the company installs controls. Violations of the interim limit will result in a penalty of $18,000 per violation. In July 2023, DEQ issued a $213,600 penalty to Owens-Brockway under these provisions of the agreement. DEQ issued a $54,000 penalty in January 2024​ for three violations of the interim opacity limit in June 2024.
  • Supplemental environmental project. DEQ required Owens-Brockway to spend $529,404 of the penalty on one or more projects that will provide air quality benefits to the surrounding community. In March 2022, DEQ approved Owens-Brockway's application for a supplemental environmental project to contribute these funds to Friends of Trees for tree planting efforts in neighborhoods surrounding the facility. Owens-Brockway submitted a SEP progress report ​to DEQ in June 2023 and will submit its next report in June 2024. ​Learn more about supplemental environmental projects in general at DEQ's Supplemental Environmental Projects page. ​

Public involvement

The public comment period is open as of Feb. 28, 2024. DEQ will hold a virtual public hearing on Thursday, April 4, 2024 at 6 p.m.

The comment period closes on Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at 5 p.m. 

Submit your comment  

  • By email: nwraqpermits@deq.oregon.gov
  • By mail: Oregon DEQ, Northwest Region Air Quality Permit Coordinator, 700 NE Multnomah St. Ste. 600, Portland, OR 97232-4100
More information

Virtual Public Hearing About Owens-Brockway's Reopened and Modified TV Air Quality Permit: April 4, 2024


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Contact

For media inquiries:
Lauren Wirtis 
Office of Communications and Outreach