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State Sues Gallo Over Hazardous Dust Used To Make Wine Bottles



The California Department of Toxic Substances Control has sued Ernest and Julio Gallo's glass production plant in Modesto.

Keith Kihara with the state says the company improperly stored, then improperly recycled oil and hazardous dust -containing lead, arsenic, cadmium and selenium from 2009 -to- last year.

"What Gallo was doing was getting this dust that was collected by the air pollution control device and re-introducing it as an ingredient in the glass-making process."

The suit alleges Gallo broke the law by recycling the dust.

"They should have been managing it properly by either sending it to a treatment or a disposal facility," says Kihara.

Chris Savage with Gallo says the company used the waste in place of salt cake- a key ingredient needed to make glass.

He says the process is used industry-wide and worldwide and follows state and federal law. But, for now, Gallo is trucking its hazardous dust -estimated at thousands of tons per year- to a landfill. 

"It is going to an appropriate  landfill for the type of material it is, so it's being protected there. But, it would be far better to put it back into the glass-making process versus filling up landfills," says Savage.

Both the state and Gallo say the glass is sealed and poses no threat to people.

"All of the product is melted together and then when it cools, the process of cooling vitrifies the product and it locks it up inside the glass," says Savage. "So, you have no exposure at all to any of components that go in glass."

Savage says the company was surprised the state would file a lawsuit now.

Kihara says the state filed the lawsuit now to avoid letting the statute of limitations pass. The two sides have been in negotiations for the last six years.

Each violation carries a fine of $25,000 per violation per day.