Mark Leonard, the city's economic and development director, says environmental problems with Recycle America Alliance -- a subsidiary of Waste Management, which is in the final year of its contract as the city's solid-waste pickup provider -- have been "escalating" for several months.
"There have been efforts to mitigate the issues," he said. "Now we are evaluating whether or not the mitigation has been successful."
The company, which opened its multimillion-dollar factory in 2001, recycles glass for Ernest & Julio Gallo, the world's largest winemaker. The material is shipped to Gallo Glass Co., the winemaker's plant in Modesto that transforms it into new bottles.
The Union City site, in the industrial area near Western Avenue and Pacific Street, employs 23 people and recycles 160,000 tons of mixed glass annually, said Sarah Simpson, a Waste Management spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, employees of nearby businesses, including Tri-Ced Community Recycling, Caravan Trading Co. and Blommer Chocolate Co., have complained to the city about airborne glass dust, which people inhale and which covers cars.
Flies, seagulls and rodents also have turned up near the 70,000-square-foot glass-sorting site, say Leonard and City Councilman Richard Valle, founder of Tri-Ced, which provides recycling and yard-waste pickup services in Union City and recycling services in Hayward.
The warm summer months are often the worst time of year for odors and the dust byproducts of the glass recy- cling are creating a "health hazard," Valle said.
"They have to separate raw garbage from the glass," he said. "When (the waste) sits to be processed, in heaps outside ... that's how the odor ferments and is created."
Representatives from Blommer's and Caravan Trading refused to comment.
Valle, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility, said city officials were told when the company opened that only colored glass would be separated and processed at the facility.
"There was nothing said about the garbage," he said. "There are literally heaps that are waiting to be processed."
With many cities -- including Fremont -- converting to single-stream recycling programs, traditional sorting procedures for recyclable materials have been eliminated. As a result, Recycle America Alliance must sort through remaining waste when processing glass.
Valle estimates that six to eight truckloads of waste material are brought to the facility daily. Most shipments come from the Bay Area and Southern California, Waste Management's Simpson said.
She said the company wants to be a good neighbor and has altered operations to do so.
"We feel like they have made a good-faith effort to listen to the concerns voiced by the neighbors and the city," she said. "We have also made some changes in our operations to address the concerns."