Intel is seeking to double the allowable carbon footprint and particulate matter emissions at two of its Washington County facilities, the company revealed at a public meeting Wednesday night in Hillsboro.
In a new construction permit filed Dec. 31, the company is asking to increase the permissible carbon-dioxide equivalent at its Aloha and Ronler Acres locations from about 300,000 tons per year to over 800,000. The semiconductor manufacturer also anticipates that emissions of particulate matter (PM) could increase from the current level of 14 tons per year to 38.
PM2.5 emissions – small (up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter) particles and liquid droplets of which Washington County officials are currently wary – might increase to 28 tons per year. Industry’s contribution to the county’s total PM2.5 emissions, however, has been called “insignificant.”
Intel officials said the numbers are so much higher than current levels because technology has changed so rapidly since the company’s current emissions limits were established. The requested increase is also due to the permit’s requirement that Intel account for any potential future emissions at its multibillion-dollar D1X facility under construction in Hillsboro – even if the chipmaker hasn’t planned for those emissions yet.
The construction permit – a Type 4 Air Permit Application submitted to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality – contains regulatory requirements that “Intel has not been subjected to before,” said Stephanie Shanley, a senior environmental engineer with the company.
Intel had to submit a new construction permit for D1X after revelations in 2013 that the company had failed to disclose fluoride emissions at its Washington County factories for years. The DEQ found that Intel had initially submitted the wrong permit for D1X and fined the business $143,000, though the agency allowed construction to continue.
The fluoride disclosures required a stricter permit than the one Intel originally sought. In the new application, Intel projects that its fluoride emissions could increase from the current level of 3.4 tons per year to 6.4 tons per year. Shanley said those levels are safe.
“We were able to prove that the [fluoride] concentrations in the ambient air are below” standards used by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Shanley said. (Oregon does not have such a standard for fluoride.)
Intel revealed the details surrounding its new permit application at a meeting of the Air Quality Advisory Committee, a body created after the company settled with two watchdog groups that had threatened to sue in the wake of the fluoride revelations.