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.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

ATSDR Calls for Tests on Silica

Intel activist Fred Marsh wrote the following response to the ATSDR report:

I am submitting the following as a public comment to the ATSDR draft report.

I retired from Los Alamos National Lab after a 39-year career as a research chemist. After my retirement I moved to Corrales and became active in Corrales Residents for Clean Air & Water. My involvement included being a member of the Corrales Air Quality Task Force.

I have always contended that conditions in Intel's RTOs are nearly ideal for directly producing crystalline silica when Intel's organo-silicon compounds are burned. So the recent discussion about the temperature at which amorphous silica is converted to crystalline silica is irrelevant.

While I was a member of the Task Force, Intel's Mindy Koch, also a Task Force member, claimed to have proof that Intel released only amorphous silica. When I asked to see that proof, she sent me an analysis report for silica that had been scraped from an RTO burner nine years earlier. I told Ms. Koch that silica deposited on an RTO burner in no way represented what was released into the air.

I then asked Ms. Koch to have particulates collected from the gas exiting their RTOs and have it analyzed by x-ray diffraction, but she never responded to my request.

As a Task Force member I also repeatedly asked NMED to collect samples from the RTO exit for silica analysis, but NMED never did so. If they had, we could have had actual evidence of the silica form, one way or another.

Perhaps NMED preferred Intel's unsupported claims of amorphous silica, to evidence that might prove otherwise.

Just as NMED has always approved every emission factor Intel uses to calculate zero release, with no supporting evidence to justify these emission factors. (even when actual measurements show multi-ton quantities have been released).

This addresses the heart of the problem, which is that NMED, the State agency that should be protecting the public, instead has been given the political assignment of protecting Intel, no matter the cost to public health and the environment.

Fred Marsh
Corrales Residents for Clean Air & Water

Postcript: Incredibly, a Florida woman, Caroline Macatugob, contacted the Corrales Comment on February 12 to report that she is dying of the same rare lung disease that killed two Corrales residents in the 2001 and 2002. She wrote that she lived near Intel from 1983 to 1990: "Pulmonary fibrosis is very rare, and my slides were even sent to the military hospital in Bethesda who said they'd never seen anything like it. I now have 20 percent of my lungs left. Please, please send my info along to the ATSDR (as part of the public comment period)."

That was done, and ATSDR lead investigator Peter Kowalski is recommending additional sampling for crystalline silica and will research the issue further for the final ATSDR report.

For the full story, go online to and read the March 7, 2009 issue.