Citizens fear effects as far away as FG and Cornelius

Speaker after speaker came to the microphone at the Hillsboro Civic Center Monday evening to offer testimony about emissions from Intel’s semi-conductor manufacturing plants in Hillsboro and Aloha.

Sponsored by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the formal hearing sought public comment on a proposed new air quality permit for Intel, the Washington County economic giant that employs hundreds of residents from Forest Grove, Cornelius and the surrounding area.

With its local operations expanding, Intel’s emissions for fluorides, greenhouse gases and volatile organic compounds would all increase.

The hearing opened with a statement from Jill Eiland, corporate affairs manager for Intel in Oregon, who pledged that Intel would be responsive in complying with regulations.

Over the next two-and-a-half hours, 18 citizens offered mostly opposing testimony. Some cited “health hazards” from such increased emissions.

Russ Dondero of Forest Grove blasted DEQ for being in the dark about what Intel was emitting.

“DEQ has no independent basis for Intel’s permit. DEQ is totally reliant on Intel’s self-assessment. That is unacceptable on any level,” Dondero said. “What is the moral difference between Assad gassing people in Syria, and Intel gassing residents of Washington County? Well, you can say ‘We don’t know Intel is doing that’ — and we will never know by the standards of DEQ.”

The economic ramifications of limiting Intel’s emissions are still unclear. DEQ officials said the agency can’t simply deny the proposed permit, although it can impose conditions.

Some speakers feared the proposed emissions might affect people’s health as far away as Forest Grove and Cornelius, due to prevailing wind currents.

DEQ will accept public comments until Sept. 25. They can be mailed to AQ Permit Coordinator, DEQ Northwest Region, 2020 S.W. Fourth Ave., Suite 400, Portland, OR 97201.

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