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  • 22 Oct 2014

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Intel will pay for emissions oversight

Intel will pay a $143,000 civil penalty and agree to other terms in an agreement signed April 23 with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The mutual agreement and order between DEQ and Intel comes after the semiconductor manufacturing company’s failure to report fluoride emissions; failure to obtain a permit to emit fluorides; and for beginning construction of the D1X manufacturing facility at its Ronler Acres site without proper approval.

According to the agreement, Intel will pay $143,000 in civil penalties for air quality permit violations and will submit an appropriate permit application by the end of 2014.

Additionally, the company will make fluoride emissions information available on a public website, exploreintel.com.

The website is active, said Intel spokeswoman Chelsea Hossaini, but does not currently contain information on fluoride emissions. That information will be added “shortly,” she said, but offered no firm date on when the company will post the information.

Forest Grove resident Dale Feik, the air quality committee chairman of the Washington County Citizen Action Network, said last week that his committee had not yet discussed the mutual agreement. He said he had read it and still had many questions.

The fine, he said, is insubstantial.

“That is pennies,” Feik said. With $9.6 billion in profits each year, “in eight minutes, Intel has made that $143,000.”

The agreement calls for Intel to submit “a proposed approach for testing fluoride and hydrogen fluoride emissions from a representative group of acid gas scrubbers at the combined (Aloha and Ronler Acres) facilities.”

Feik believes Intel should be required to conduct “continuous air monitoring from those stacks” and be transparent about what and how much it is emitting during the manufacturing process.

During a public hearing last fall in Hillsboro about the company’s application for an air quality permit, Intel corporate affairs manager Jill Eiland told the audience the state’s largest private employer is “committed to meet or exceed all applicable regulatory requirements. We currently have a significant inventory of emission control equipment and will add more with the Oregon site expansion.

Even as Intel operations expand, forecasted emissions will remain in compliance with permit limits.”

Feik said he was pleased public awareness has increased on Intel’s emissions.

“Without citizens speaking out, none of this would have happened,” Feik said.

The mutual agreement “brings it to the public, has reporters asking questions and activists like me questioning it and looking into it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Intel officials appeared resigned to the DEQ’s punitive action.

“We are cooperating with the DEQ and are prepared to pay the fine and take corrective actions,” Hossaini said last week in response to the mutual agreement and order.

“I hope we are putting enough pressure on Intel that they will go above state and federal regulations” to improve and monitor its emissions, Feik said.