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.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Intel's Silica Emissions

Following is are emails sent to Stephen Littlejohn of Intel's Community Environmental Working Group (CEWG) from Fred Marsh of Corrales Residents for Clean Air and Water. At issue is whether Intel's silica emissions are crystalline silica which can cause deadly lung disease, or amorphous silica which is relatively benign. Please note that five local residents have contracted pulmonary fibrosis which can be caused by crystalline silica and three have died of it. Based on the national rate for this rare disease, only one case would be expected for the population of Corrales. Thus, the rate of this deadly disease is five times higher for Intel neighbors than it is for those who live elsewhere.


I have reviewed the silica analysis information Ms. Chavez claims was done in 2004 and presented to the CEWG in 2005.

As a former analytical chemist, I find her submission to be very selective and incomplete. None of the usual detailed analytical report information is included.

The "accredited third party laboratories" are not identified. No details are provided to ensure that representative samples of airborne silica were collected.

It claims less than 1% crystalline silica for five different samples, but nowhere does it reveal the amount of silica collected for any of the five samples.

I find it surprising that Intel chose not to share this information with the Task Force. I also am surprised that the alleged presentation to the CEWG was not recalled and brought to our attention by any of the CEWG members, or by any other regular meeting attendees.

It is even more surprising that Ms. Chavez waited so long to share these incomplete analytical results. Perhaps this is a case of what psychologists call "recovered suppressed memory."

What I wrote earlier remains completely true. Intel DID NOT share its alleged 2004 silica results with me or any other Task Force member. The long delay before Intel publicized what they should have been eager to report as favorable results is difficult to understand.

What I wrote (excerpted below) is still accurate. We have no reason to trust Intel, but many reasons (some listed below) to distrust them.

Fred Marsh

* * * * * *
Stephen Littlejohn
CEWG Facilitator

The second paragraph in your "Brief History of Concerns" states that Intel collected and analyzed airborne silica samples in 2004.

If they did so, they kept it a secret from me and from other Task Force members. Yet, even if airborne silica was actually measured, Intel's insider knowledge would have allowed them to collect samples during periods when HDMS releases were especially low.

NMED earlier cited Intel for systematically excluding RTO downtimes from the infrequent actual stack measurements required by their permit. So Intel has already been cited for a similar type of cheating.

Moreover, Intel whistle-blowers have told us that Intel subcontractors who report high values are often required to repeat their measurements until they report "acceptable" values.

In the absence of external oversight, or even awareness, Intel's claimed silica results must be viewed with suspicion.

Thus, Intel's 2004 silica measurement claim may be similar to the phony emission factors Intel used to calculate and report zero release of carcinogenic carbon tetrachloride in the 4th quarter of 2003, even when 1.4 tons had actually been measured.

Fred Marsh
Corrales Residents for Clean Air & Water