Pilkington North America, a subsidiary of Nippon Sheet Glass, has announced it is closing its Lathrop, Calif., plant, which currently manufactures commercial architectural and automotive glass.
According to a release from the company, “This decision was made after a careful review. The Lathrop facility is due for repair in the near future and new environmental regulations effective January 1, 2014, dictate that pollution control equipment be installed to meet the new standards. Unfortunately, the required investment is not economically feasible in light of the current market conditions.”
According to a statement from Jim Gulbronson, president of the United Steel Workers (USW) local union 418G, “The business climate for our plant has been slow since the start of the 2008 recession. Back in early 2008, the company had announced that the plant would be undergoing a $100 million dollar repair. In addition to the recession, additional pollution requirements by the Federal, State and local governments have made it extremely difficult. While the company was able to get a three-year variance back in 2011, time has run out and the company has chosen to shut the plant down.”
Pilkington recently agreed to pay a settlement of $207,723 for alleged violations of hazardous waste laws at the same plant, according to California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
The payment includes $187,975 in civil penalties and $19,748 in reimbursement of DTSC’s costs. The settlement stems from a complaint filed in Sacramento County Superior Court that lists 15 causes of action including illegal storage of hazardous waste, illegal disposal of hazardous waste, failure to have a legally mandated contingency plan to deal with spills or other unplanned releases, and inadequate training of staff who handle hazardous waste at the facility, according to DTSC. The complaint was filed after a 2010 inspection of the plant.
“It’s a shame that real good manufacturing jobs like we had here will be gone forever,” Gulbronson says.
Production is expected to cease prior to the end of February 2014, but the company says normal shipping will continue through August 2014. Approximately 115 jobs will be affected.