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Officials pledge link to public

Intel officials are promising to improve their communications to area residents as the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality works to resolve questions surrounding its most recent air quality permit application. by: PAMPLINE MEDIA GROUP: CHASE ALLGOOD - Intel is trying to make peace with activists and neighbors as construction continues at Ronler Acres Camps.

“Our goals are the same as those in the community. We all want more transparency, more visibility about what’s happening at Intel, and legal certainty over the permit process,” said Todd Brady, Intel’s global environmental director.

Intel needs the DEQ permit to discharge emissions generated in the manufacturing process into the atmosphere. The DEQ has repeatedly granted Intel the permits, which require the company to comply with state and federal emission limits. But this year’s application process was thrown into disarray when Intel officials realized they had not been reporting fluoride emissions, as required by state regulations.

“That was our mistake and we take responsibility for it,” said Brady.

Portland-based Neighbors for Clean Air and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center at Lewis & Clark Law School have filed notice they intend to sue Intel within the next month or so for violating the federal Clean Air Act.

According to Brady, Intel officials did not realize they needed to be reporting fluoride emissions because the notification limit set by the DEQ is significantly lower than the limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other states.

Brady said Intel’s fluoride emissions are still below health limits, however, meaning Intel would have received the last permit if it had agreed to report them.

In response to the situation, Intel is reaching out to its critics, including Neighbors for Clean Air, and residents around its Washington County manufacturing plants, according to Jill Eiland, Intel’s Northwest regional corporate affairs manager.

Mary Peveto, president and co-founder of Neighbors for Clean Air, confirmed her organization is talking with Intel about its permit application.

“We’re having a good conversation and progress has been made, but we’re not prepared to say we won’t pursue the lawsuit yet,” said Peveto.

Intel is also planning to restart a citizen advisory committee that was disbanded years ago for lack of interest. The company is now considering candidates to represent neighbors, environmentalists, the business community and others on the committee. Eiland said it will begin meeting after the first of the year.

Intel has also started a new website with environmental information on Hillsboro operations, including its greenhouse gas emissions, at exploreintel.com/ronleracres.

It is unlikely Intel will ever be able to satisfy all its critics, however. For example, Forest Grove resident Dale Feik, chair of the Clean Air Committee of the Washington County Citizen Action Network, believes the DEQ has not caught permit violations at Intel’s Hillsboro plants in the past. He wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take a more aggressive role in enforcing its regulations.

“I would hope that EPA would also do an unannounced inspection of the Washington County Intel plants,” said Feik, who also serves on the board of the WC CAN, a coalition of environmental, cultural and social justice advocacy organizations.

DEQ officials have not yet said when they will finish their review and announce the rest of the process for ruling on the permit application.

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