- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accused an Indiana art glass manufacturer of violating federal clean-air standards and emitting elevated amounts of potentially toxic materials.

Last month, the EPA recently notified Kokomo Opalescent Glass that it was violating the Clean Air Act by failing to obtain a federal permit regulating glass manufacturers. The EPA claims the violation resulted in the emission of elevated amounts of metals into the air such as cadmium, chromium and arsenic, the Kokomo Tribune (http://bit.ly/1rtdWV1 ) reported.

Kokomo Opalescent Glass currently holds and operates under a state permit, known as an Indiana Registration Permit, because it emits fewer pollutants than the more stringent federal permits required for art glass factories, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

But the EPA alleges that the company should be required to obtain a federal Title V permit because it uses a continuously fired, natural-gas fueled melting furnace to produce colored sheet glass, and glass blocks using raw materials that could emit hazardous air pollutants.

Under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants set for glass manufacturers, operating a continuously fired furnace requires a company to obtain a federal Title V permit, which increases the amount of oversight and air-pollution regulations, emissions limits, increased monitoring, record keeping and reporting.

On Tuesday, Kokomo Opalescent Glass President Richard Elliott denied the EPA’s allegations that the company’s manufacturing techniques have resulted in elevated emissions of hazardous pollutants.

“We’re probably the cleanest decorative art glass manufacturer on the planet,” he said. “I think Kokomo Opalescent Glass has been an incredibly responsible corporate citizen in this community for nearly 130 years.”

The EPA declined to comment on whether it would conduct testing around the Kokomo plant to determine if it’s polluting the area.

After the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality determined two glass factories in Portland were releasing elevated levels of metals in the air, the EPA identified 14 other art-glass manufacturers, including Kokomo Opalescent Glass, that use similar processes.

Elliott describes the investigation as a “witch hunt” designed to target art-glass manufacturers.

The company plans to fight the EPA’s allegations during a conference later this month in Chicago.

“I’m not going to roll over and play dead,” Elliott said. “I’m going to show them why they’re wrong.”

Kokomo Opalescent Glass is the nation’s oldest art glass factory.

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

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