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Posted: Thursday, 05 March 2015 17:28

Gallo Sued over Toxic Waste at its Bottle Plant

March 05: The suit filed by California Attorney General’s office against the monolith Gallo- owned glass making facility at Modesto California earlier this week does not mean that the Carlo Rossi we import into India is toxic by any means but does raise a question whether FSSAI which has created a huge fuss about labelling with international ramifications, thoroughly tests for toxic substances like arsenic and whether it has rejected any shipments on that ground since it was given control of certification

California Attorney General’s Office has filed a complaint against Gallo Glass Company, alleging the company used hazardous waste in the manufacture of glass wine bottles made at its Modesto plant. According to a Press Release this has been done on behalf of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).  The complaint, alleges the company illegally introduced dust containing lead, arsenic, cadmium and selenium into the manufacture of its wine bottles from 2009-2014.

DTSC has no evidence that consuming wine stored in these bottles poses a health threat. The contaminated dust is generated by air pollution equipment used to capture regulated pollutants that would otherwise be released into the air from its furnaces. The dust is considered a hazardous waste and must be properly managed and disposed of under California law. Both the state and Gallo say the glass is sealed and poses no threat to people.

Sacramento-based Capital Public Radio which first broke the news, attributed the following comments made by Keith Kihara, a spokesperson for DTSC.

“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. They should have been managing it properly by either sending it to a treatment or a disposal facility.” The suit alleges that Gallo broke the law by recycling the dust.

Chris Savage with Gallo told Capital Public Radio that Gallo Glass Company was following the proper hazardous waste disposal protocol. He added that Gallo was using the waste in place of salt cake- a key ingredient needed to make glass.

He adds that the process is used industry-wide and worldwide and follows state and federal law. For now, Gallo is trucking thousands of tones of the hazardous dust 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. The entire product is melted together and when it cools, the process of cooling vitrifies the product and it locks it up inside the glass. So, you have no exposure at all to any of components that go in glass," reportedly says Savage.

He is surprised that the state has suddenly decided to file the suit. Kihara on the other hands says the two sides had been negotiating for six years and the state was obliged to file the suit since because of statute of limitations. Each violation carries a heavy fine of $25,000 per violation per day.

The report brings out two facts-one is that the US state government follows the state laws relating to wine production very strongly and the penalties are heavy if the product has a safety hazard. Therefore, when one drinks American wine and especially Californian wine, one can breathe easy that the wine won’t have any toxic substances.

The second more important aspect is whether the FSSAI which has the responsibility of looking after the health safety norms for food and alcobev drinks, has a safety benchmark for these toxic materials and is vigilant against such possibility or is bogged down by the bureaucratic details. delWine plans to investigate through various means available and shall keep our readers posted at a later date.

Subhash Arora

Trivia: The Attorney General of California is Kamala Devi Harris, an American woman born to an Indian mother from Chennai and American father. (Think Preet Bharara,  US Attorney for the Southern District of New York)

DTSC Press Release                 Complaint

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