Oregon regulators granted Intel an air quality permit for its Washington County manufacturing operations last week, a permit sidetracked in the fall of 2013 over revelations the chipmaker had been emitting fluoride for 25 years without disclosing it.
No evidence emerged that the fluoride emissions posed a health risk, but Intel’s failure to disclose the fluoride emissions worried neighbors and outraged environmentalists. Intel apologized for the problem and spent months negotiating with regulators and neighbors to win a new permit.
Though Intel’s headquarters are in Santa Clara, California, the company’s manufacturing group is based in Hillsboro and the company crafts each new generation of microprocessors at its Ronler Acres campus south of Hillsboro Stadium. The company is wrapping up construction on a pair of massive new research factories, collectively known as D1X.
Under terms of the settlement, Intel conducted an “air quality risk assessment” that inventories all pollutants from its factories. That assessment, completed in November, is now available online.
Intel also agreed to third-party monitoring of air quality near its factories, last month, reached a “Good Neighbor Agreement” with nearby residents that outlines terms of future emissions monitoring, emissions levels and dispute resolution.
With those steps complete, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit to Intel on January 22. The company declined comment but Mary Peveto, founder of Neighbors for Clean Air, called the result a major win for neighbors.
Intel emissions may not be harmless, Peveto said, but they will be limited and cataloged so people know what they’re breathing.
“The risks that Intel poses will be below a threshold we all agreed to,” she said, “which is much more stringent than our state or federal government requires.”