The California Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Department of Toxic Substances Control earlier this week concerning one of the products for which the Golden State is perhaps best known across the nation and around the world: wine.
The lawsuit, however, had nothing to do with the Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs of Napa Valley, but rather the glass wine bottles of Modesto.
Specifically, the DTSC has initiated legal action against the Gallo Glass Company over what it says is the illegal use of dangerous dust in the manufacture of wine bottles.
This dust -- which contains traces of selenium, lead, arsenic and cadmium -- is essentially a waste product generated by the air pollution equipment used to capture the regulated pollutants released from the company's furnaces.
The complaint states accuses Gallo Glass of the following:
- Failing to show that its use of the contaminated dust qualifies as recycling under state law.
- Failing to comply with existing regulations on legitimate recycling.
- Failing to safely store a significant quantity of a hazardous product.
For its part, Gallo Glass has argued that it was recycling the dust in a safe and responsible manner by including it in the bottle-making process, and that it plans to fight the matter in court.
"The use of precipitate in glass making is recognized throughout the world as the environmentally sustainable best practice -- and its use in the glass-making process eliminates the need to transport and dispose of it in landfills," read a released statement from the company.
Furthermore, Gallo argues that it has been manufacturing bottles in this manner since 2009, and that the state has provided no viable proposals since that time. Indeed, it accuses the DTSC of unilaterally deciding to end all discussions and taking legal action without any warning.
In addition to seeking unspecified damages, the lawsuit calls for an order prohibiting Gallo from further violating the state's hazardous waste laws and from using the dust in its bottle-making process.
It should be noted that the DTSC has found no evidence that there is any health risk posed by consuming wine stored in these bottles manufactured using the dust.
Stay tuned for updates on this fascinating case …
Sources: KCRA, "Gallo Glass sued by state for use of hazardous materials in wine bottles," Linda Mumma, March 2, 2015; California Environmental Protection Agency Department of Toxic Substances Control, "DTSC cites Gallo Glass Company for using hazardous waste in wine bottles," March 2, 2015