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Intel Irish fab expansion hits snag

Environmentalists up in arms

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Updated Intel's plan for a £1.5 billion expansion of its County Kildare, Ireland plant is facing protests from environmentalists, according to the Irish Independent. The expansion of the Leixlip plant would create 1000 additional jobs, but locals are objecting that pollution from the semiconductor manufacturing process, linked with additional road traffic, pose a threat to the environment.

Desmond Guinness, owner of Leixlip Castle, is fronting the protest. His pollution and health claims are rejected by Intel, and the Irish Environmental Protection Agency says the company has always complied with its pollution control licence.

Permission for the massive expansion was given by Kildare County Council in May and a decision on the appeal is not expected before October.

The local people behind the protest say they have no objection in principle to Intel expanding its business, but claim insufficient conditions have been attached to the expansion plan. They claim that the expansion will increase health hazards to the Leixlip community, especially due to commuter traffic, vibration and exhaust fumes.

The protestors also question the ability of environmental and health monitoring organisations to safeguard locals' health, especially regarding airborne toxins. They claim that Intel discharges many tons of fine particulates, toxic gases and carcinogenic solvents into the atmosphere, including hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid and copper salts of these acids.

Intel spokesman Bill Riley confirmed that the company had lodged a rebuttal to the protestors' claims and was "extremely confident" that the expansion would go ahead as planned.

"We've made 55 different planning applications since we've been in Leixlip," said Riley, "and there have only been 5 objections. Intel and Hewlett-Packard have between them contributed over three million Irish pounds [£2.25M] to road improvement schemes in the area."

Riley added that Intel was typically operating at somewhere between 75pc to 95pc below its EPA licence limit. ®

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