A subsidiary of E&J Gallo Winery is facing legal action brought by the state of California, alleging that the firm used ‘hazardous waste’ in its production of wine bottles - a charge the company denied.

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California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) said that Gallo Glass of ‘illegally introduced dust containing lead, arsenic, cadmium and selenium into the manufacture of its wine bottles’.

Gallo, one of the world’s largest wine companies, has denied wrongdoing and the DTSC said there was no evidence that drinking wine from the bottles would be harmful to health.

But, officials accused Gallo of failing to store ‘large volumes’ of hazardous waste properly. They added that the firm’s practice of disposing of waste ‘by putting it into materials fed into the furnaces and heated to form molten glass used to make bottles’, did not constitute legitimate recycling.

Although the DTSC said Gallo agreed last year to stop using the dust in its manufacture of wine bottles, the authority has filed legal action in Alameda County Superior Court for previous breaches of the rules.

It said it was seeking unspecified damages and a ruling that would ban Gallo from returning to its previous practice.

The court document states that a fine of up to $25,000 for each day of violation would be the norm in a case like this.

‘This lawsuit has no merit,’ said Gallo in a statement. ‘The Gallo Glass plant is a state-of-the-art facility recognised around the world for its advanced pollution control technologies and environmentally-sustainable practices, which the State is inexplicably challenging in this lawsuit.’

Written by Chris Mercer