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NSG-Pilkington selling glass plant, 185 acres
The last piece of glass rolled through the Lathrop plant on Jan. 29. - photo by Photo Contributed

LATHROP – The NSG-Pilkington float glass manufacturing plant is for sale. 

On Monday a representative from DTZ – a global firm specializing in high-dollar sales – confirmed that the 185.59-acre facility will be available for purchase once the property is finally vacated. 

The company’s San Francisco-based office will be handling the logistics behind the transaction.

Production of float glass was halted in January and 43 employees were laid off in early March. The remaining 45 employees will be tasked with shipping glass and operating the distribution end of the business until September when the facility is expected to close for good. 

The property is actually comprised of three separate parcels but will be combined in the sale. The facility opened as the Libbey-Owens-Ford glass plant in the 1962 and made automotive glass components until New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. – the Fremont-based that was jointly operated by General Motors and Toyota – closed in 2010. 

It is currently owned by Japan-based Nippon Sheet Glass and still bears the name of English company Pilkington which bought the facility from LOF. 

One of the major contributing factors to its closure was a tightening of air quality standards by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District – it affected seven valley glass plants total – that would have required a $100 million overhaul for the installation of new equipment. Initially NSG said that they would move forward with the renovations, but those never came. After five or six years of working with the district, and with a Jan. 1 deadline looming, the company announced that they would be ceasing operations back in November. 

Earlier in the year they were slapped with a $200,000 fine by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control after it was discovered that the company had mishandled hazardous waste over a period of six years. According to court findings, the company was guilty of offenses like improperly storing hazardous waste and illegally dumping hazardous waste. 

A 2010 inspection of the facility discovered acid spills in the battery recharging area, selenium powder in the raw materials section and used oil on the ground throughout the facility. 

According to postings on the website of the United Steel Workers Local 418G, the last pieces of glass went through the plant on Jan. 29 and the removal of equipment started about a week later. Cleaning up the facility included removing all of the molten tin that the facility stored – the “Pilkington process” that the English-company pioneered involved floating molten glass on a bed of hot, liquid metal – and removing all of the broken glass that was caught after it was cut and dropped into a storage area below. 

Since the plant was completely full at the time it was shutdown, shipments of glass are expected to continue through September. 

The price of the land, which will be determined by a closed-bid successive auction, will include what remains of the plant and will be zoned for “general industrial.” Details on the bid process will come in an offer memorandum shortly.