Horry officials not worried about glass recycler’s fines

Source: MyHorryNews
Source: MyHorryNews

Posted on October 25, 2013 from WMBF News partner, My Horry News.

A nationally known glass recycler that's looking to expand in Horry County has been cited for dozens of workplace safety and environmental violations over the last five years, according to public records.

But local officials insist the citations shouldn't tarnish the company's overall record.

Dlubak Glass is owned by David Dlubak, the same multimillionaire who owns the Ithaca Gun Company, which announced last week that it would build a manufacturing facility in the Cool Springs Business Park near Aynor.

Economic development officials said the gun maker plans to add 120 jobs over five years, but Dlubak has also discussed building a glass operation on the site, said Brad Lofton, president of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

Dlubak runs glass recycling facilities in six states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

A Dlubak spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Dlubak Glass for 15 violations after an inspection at one of the company's plants in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, according to OSHA records. OSHA fined Dlubak $126,700.

The allegations stemmed from a complaint that workers were being exposed to lead and lacked proper protective equipment, according to an OSHA news release. Exposure to lead can cause damage to organs and the nervous system.

OSHA described 13 of the violations as "serious" and Dlubak Glass was placed in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which is reserved for repeat OSHA offenders. The program requires follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with workplace safety regulations.

An OSHA spokeswoman said the Dlubak case is still in mediation.

In recent years, the company has also had run-ins with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

The EPA sent Dlubak a letter in 2008 stating the company had violated the Clean Air Act by installing equipment at an Ohio plant without the proper permits, according to the agency's records.

In 2009, Arizona's environmental agency cracked down on Dlubak for problems at its Yuma, Ariz., facility.

One of the country's leading glass recyclers, Dlubak takes discarded electronics such as televisions and computer monitors and harvests the glass from the scrapped items.

Some of the glass comes from cathode ray tubes, which contain lead.

Inspectors with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality found Dlubak had stored broken cathode ray tubes in unlabeled cardboard boxes throughout the Yuma property and some of those tubes had spilled out, according to that agency's records.

Inspectors also tested soil outside the Yuma plant and found high levels of lead, the report said.

Mark Shaffer, a spokesman for Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the agency continues to have problems with the Dlubak plant.

"Despite what we thought were positive trends from them early on after the enforcement action, they have not come back in compliance," he said in an email. "They are still in the process of cleaning up the contaminated soil and they have had issues with paying environmental consultants."

Despite the company's recent troubles, economic development officials said Dlubak is a giant in the glass industry and has a long history of success.

"We just don't think that's a big deal," the EDC's Lofton said of the citations.

He also stressed that the county's agreement with Ithaca is not contingent upon a glass operation, though discussions about building a glass plant have taken place.

"It's two separate companies," Lofton said. "Both are well run."

Horry County Councilman Al Allen, whose district includes the Cool Springs Business Park, also said he isn't worried about Dlubak fines.

"As with any business, regulations are tough," he said. "It is hard keeping your operation as safe as possible for the employees."

Council Chairman Mark Lazarus, who traveled to Ohio to broker the Ithaca deal, couldn't be reached for comment.

Horry Independent writer Heather Gale contributed to this report.