Uroboros glass announces closure next year citing environmental regulations, retirement

This March 11, 2016 photo shows Uroboros Glass, a colored-glassmaking facility suspected of being a source of the heavy metals, in Portland, Ore. Fiercely protective of its reputation as one of the most eco-friendly cities in the country, Portland is reeling from the discovery of poisonous heavy metals in the air and the ground of neighborhoods where thousands of people live, work and attend school. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

One of the Portland glass companies linked to toxins released into the air earlier this year announced that it will be closing next year.

Uroboros announced Wednesday that it will be closing down after more than 43 years of operation in North Portland. The company sites the “high costs of meeting many new environmental, fire safety, and seismic regulations” and impending retirement of company founder Eric Lovell.

In a letter released on the Uroboros website, Lovell said he plans to ramp down operations over the next 9 to 12 months. They are also pursuing another location; however, he isn't certain the company will reopen.

Reaction among those who live near the company were mixed Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm glad the glass company is closing," said Gina Levine, who has children attending nearby Harriett Tubman Middle School. "It's tough because you don't want people to lose their jobs and you don't want to see a business fail, but if they're hurting other people while making money then they absolutely should have some sort of accountability for that."

"I think it's kind of sad," said Allegra Rainbow, who lives nearby. "It's just going to get harder and harder to find good glass in Portland and there are a lot of artists here that rely on that glass."

Uroboros and Bullseye Glass were at the center of an EPA investigation earlier this year after soil and air samples in the surrounding areas came back positive for cadmium and arsenic, two chemical elements used in the glass-making process. Both companies stopped using the chemicals, and the DEQ saw a significant drop in air concentrations of heavy metals.

The test results prompted Gov. Kate Brown to ask the federal government to step in and fix regulatory gaps that allowed the toxic air to occur, adding that there should be greater investments in monitoring the emissions in the first place.

A second round of EPA testing found that there were no short-term health risks to people living in the surrounding areas.

Cadmium has been linked to lung cancer and kidney damage, while health concerns from arsenic are cancers of the skin, lungs and bladder.

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