An official inquiry has started as to how Chipzilla could get a permit to fill the Oregon air with toxic gases.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) appears to have signed off on a $3 billion expansion in Hillsboro, while ignoring the fact that the plant might put deadly fluoride gas into the atmosphere. The discovery of the cock up means that Intel’s air quality permit is in trouble.
Officials need to decide if DEQ needs to redo part or all of its clean air request processing.
All this mess was caused by the fact that Intel forgot to report its fluoride emissions from the plant for more than 30 years. When Chipzilla applied for the expansion approval in 2010 it also failed to admit that fluoride was being put into the atmosphere.
It had a good reason not to do so. If it had put its hand up it would have been subject to a more intensive DEQ vetting and a public notice. It might also have to explain why it forgot to tell anyone that the cancer giving gas was in the air.
Not mentioning the fluoride meant that Intel could go for a rubber stamp style approval.
Now that the company has acknowledged the fluoride and requested that the watchdog allow an increase in another emission - volatile organic compounds.
But local lobby groups are furious that Intel appears to have been given such an easy ride by the local authorities.
Neighbours for Clean Air attorney John Krallman told Oregon Live the company should have required a permit to start building.
Krallman said there was no current basis for Intel’s fluoride limit.
For Intel’s part, the company said in an emailed statement that it would cooperate with the DEQ in responding to public comments.