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Intel emissions are corrosive and toxic

I am a concerned father, grandfather and community member. That’s why I will be attending an important public hearing next Monday, Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m. in Hillsboro.

At the hearing, community members will be able to testify to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality regarding how Washington County’s largest employer is impacting our air quality and safety.

Please read the information below that explains why I am concerned; then search out more information and come prepared to speak or present written testimony. I will be expressing my concerns and I hope you will join me.

Here is the situation:

n Intel has proposed an increase in its toxic air emissions, some that are very corrosive and others that are very toxic to children and adults; particularly pregnant women.

n The computer chipmaker purports to be a good neighbor, but has a history of failing to install devices to continuously monitor air emissions at the place of discharge. The Department of Environmental Quality lacks funding to measure toxic emissions of specific sites, relying on only two monitoring stations — one in Oregon City and one in southeast Portland. Intel’s operations at its New Mexico facilities emit toxic emissions of phosgene. Phosgene is the gas that caused 80 percent of the poison gas fatalities in World War I. It is 3.5 times heavier than air and is less likely to be carried off as smog. Other toxic emissions are also heavier than air, remaining close to the emission site.

n Intel’s Ronler Acres facility in Hillsboro filed a report with the Office of the State Fire Marshal in September 2010 that listed 154 hazardous chemicals. Of those, 54 are listed as “acute health hazards,” 21 are listed as “corrosive materials” and one — lead — is listed as a “chronic health hazard.” According to Clean Water Services, the county’s wastewater agency, its job is to assure that Intel does not allow corrosive materials to get into public pipes. Five of those 54 “acute health hazards” listed “proprietary organic solvent” as the active ingredient. By federal law, Intel does not have to name those ingredients. Some of those are volatile organic substances; some may be known endocrine disrupters and cancer-causing chemicals.

n Intel’s previous emission permit did not permit the release of fluorides, small particulate matter, or greenhouse gases, including C02. With Intel’s proposed permit, the company is applying to release 6.4 tons per year of fluorides, 14 tons per year of small particulate matter and 819,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide. This greenhouse gas is the primary human cause of climate warming. In addition, Intel plans to nearly double its release of volatile organic compounds from 99 to 178 tons per year. VOCs cause significant health-related problems.

n Profits are good. Intel’s 2013 first quarter net income was reported to be $2 billion.

Mike Rogoway, an investigative reporter for The Oregonian, wrote in 2010: “Oregon embraces Intel, but in New Mexico, environmental doubts persist.” (Google “Rogoway; Oregon embraces Intel,” to get the article and its active links.) It’s an excellent review of Intel’s problems in New Mexico — the company’s Superfund site, how neighbors tried to persuade Intel to be a responsible environmental steward by installing continuous emission monitoring, how a mechanical problem caused toxic emissions to be emitted for more than three months, and how Intel did not come clean on the problem as required by regulations.

Rogoway seems to imply that people in Oregon should be more concerned about the health and environmental problems caused by Intel manufacturing plants.

In Rogoway’s article you can click on links such as a list of the chemicals Intel uses at its Ronler Acres manufacturing campus in Hillsboro.

I hope you will join me at the Department of Environmental Quality’s hearing, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the city of Hillsboro Civic Center, 150 E. Main Street.

Dale Feik lives in Forest Grove and has family members living near Intel’s Hillsboro facilities.




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