Boiling Frogs-Intel vs. the Village

"Boiling Frogs - Intel vs. the Village" recounts the story of Intel Rio Rancho's impact on the air and water in the Village of Corrales from the mid-1980s to the present day. Updates to this ongoing saga will be posted here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Intel Emission Factors: Why Should You Care?

Published in response to a recent "open house" meeting held my the NM Environment Department upon its rubber-stamping of yet another reduction in Intel emission factors. Written by Barbara Rockwell, Martha Egan and Fred Marsh:

Instead of requiring Intel to actually measure the toxic emissions they release into the air we breathe, the New Mexico Envirnoment Department (NMED) allows Intel to calculate their emissions. One part of this calculation is an "emission factor" that supposedly provides a reasonable estimate of what is actually released.

Although NMED has granted every Intel request, Intel has never provided any experimental evidence to support these factors, nor has NMED ever requested such supporting evidence, or made any attempt to have them independently verified.

NMED may trust Intel, but we don't. Nor does the Internal Revenue Service, which found Intel had underpaid its 2000 income tax by $600 million. Nor does Standard & Poores, the highly respected financial institution that reported Intel had overstated its earnings for 2001 by a factor of four. When Intel has been caught cheating in such major ways with figures that can be independently checked, why should we believe their figures that cannot be checked?

NMED recently allowed Intel to revise its numbers, changing the emission factors for 32 chemicals, with eight of these changed to zero. This means that Intel will report zero emissions, no matter how much of a chemical they actually emit to our airshed. Zero times any amount equals zero.

For example, when Intel measured the release of 1.4 tons of carbon tetrachloride, a known carcinogen, from just one of its many scrubbers during the fourth quarter of 2003, they used their phony emission factor of zero for this toxic chemical to calculate and report zero release in spite of the hard evidence that they were releasing multi-ton quantities of carbon tetrachloride.

Jim Shively, after his retirement from NMED as a senior permit engineer engineer, wrote to NMED Secretary Ron Curry: "The Intel permit (No. 325M9) is a 'sham' based on an EPA memo dated June 13, 1989, and the process that produced the permit was a farce. The permit is impractical and unenforceable."

This has been repeated and emphasized many times and by many people during the permit review process and since. Intel's emission factors have never been independently validated.

Without actual, continuous measurements, neither Intel nor NMED can know what is actually being released. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Intel wants. For political reasons, NMED continues to be far more concerned with protecting Intel than they are with protecting public health and the environment.

Don't be fooled by Intel's bust-proof permit. Demand reality: demand continuous emissions monitoring with data available online in real-time for public review. It's cheap and easy to do. Intel could use a tiny portion of its $16 billion gift from Sandoval Counth to pay for this.

What have you got to hide, Intel."