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Chip manufacturer agrees to increased transparency in toxic air emission reports

Neighbors for Clean Air, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Intel have reached consensus on a Good Neighbor Agreement intended to address Intel’s air emissions levels during the chip manufacturing process at its Ronler Acres and Aloha plants.

The Good Neighbor Agreement, signed on Dec. 18, 2015, is part of an out-of-court settlement Intel Corporation agreed to in 2013, after the company was found to have been emitting fluorides into the air for many years and without a permit.

An Air Quality Advisory Committee (AQAC) — made up of members from NEDC, NCA, local citizens and representatives from Intel — have worked for the last year to hammer out the agreement, which calls for “…the parties … to continue to work cooperatively to improve livability and safety in Hillsboro and Washington County.”

The agreement requires Intel to take several specific actions, including regularly monitoring smokestack emissions, reporting those on a public website and taking steps to reduce its toxic emissions.

As a part of the agreement, Intel pledges to be more transparent about what it emits; to allow NEDC and NCA representatives to observe the emissions testing process; and to provide accurate information to the public about the impacts of those emissions.

“We believe this agreement represents an important step towards both allowing the community to better understand the risks of living near the Intel facilities, and developing a dialog between the community and Intel to address and reduce those risks,” wrote AQAC member and Northwest Environmental Defense Center staff attorney Andrew Hawley in an email to the Hillsboro Tribune.

Intel has completed an Air Quality Health Risk Assessment of toxic air contaminants and determined those contaminants are within “acceptable risk levels,” Hawley said.

“We believe there is strong incentive for Intel to complete the projects [outlined in the Good Neighbor Agreement] as it continues to work to rebuild the trust that has been lost with many members of the community,” he wrote.

Dale Feik, an AQAC committee member and campaign director for Portland Clean Air expressed concern that the wording of the Good Neighbor Agreement will not require Intel to reduce toxic air emissions, but will instead allow the Oregon Department Environmental Quality to “rubber stamp Intel’s application for an Oregon Title V operating permit...”

DEQ is currently considering Intel’s permit application which proposes doubling, and in some cases more than tripling, the current maximum emission limits at Intel’s Ronler Acres and Aloha fabrications plants of nine air pollutants, including large and small particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and fluorides.

“Our 850 [Portland Clean Air] members are concerned that our region, including Portland and Hillsboro, ranks third worst nationwide for risk of cancer from air pollution according to the EPA National Air Toxics Assessment,” Feik said. Members of Portland Clean Air will “canvass this summer every door in Hillsboro and Aloha on this air pollution issue,” he added.