By Associated Press • 

Judge allows class-action case against Portland glass maker

PORTLAND — Portland residents can move forward with a $1.2 billion class-action lawsuit against a local glass maker over concerns about toxic air pollution, a Multnomah County judge has ruled.

Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bushong on Friday granted a motion to certify the lawsuit as a class-action against Bullseye Glass Co., KATU-TV reported .

Several residents filed a lawsuit in March 2016 alleging Bullseye released arsenic, cadmium and other potentially toxic-heavy metals from its plant in southeast Portland over decades. The lawsuit alleges Bullseye knew or should have known that it is and has been emitting significant amounts of toxic materials.

Company Vice President Jim Jones said Friday he believes his company will prevail at trial.

“It's hard for us to imagine that we affected someone a mile and a half, 2 miles away from us the same as someone close to us, and I believe that at trial we'll be able to show that the merits of the case don't stand up,” he said.

According to Bullseye, it has been in compliance with the state since it started business about 40 years ago. Jones said the company has installed the correct emissions equipment.

Bullseye was one of two Portland-based glass manufacturers that sparked public outcry over toxic air pollution in 2016.

State regulators announced in February 2016 they discovered hazardous levels of cadmium and arsenic in the air near Bullseye Glass, which prompted the company to suspend use of the metals.

In 2016, the state ordered the company to stop using some dangerous chemicals. The state also ordered the company to install new filtration systems after soil samples around the facility tested positive for pollutants.

Dozens of people packed the courthouse in downtown Portland for Friday's hearing. Among them was Joshua Baker, who lives about a quarter of a mile away from the factory. He is one of about 2,000 people who are part of the lawsuit.

“They have from the very start challenged all the scientific findings that determined that they were the source for these contaminants, and apparently they're still claiming they are not responsible for it,” Baker told KATU-TV.

In December, Bullseye filed a $30 million lawsuit against Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and other top state officials, claiming they used the company as a scapegoat to cover up the state's lax record of environmental protection.

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Information from: KATU-TV, http://www.katu.com/

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