Intel plant discharges excess emissions

We knew it was full of hot air, but this is ridiculous...

Intel pumped over a third of a ton of chemicals into the air around its Rio Rancho chip foundry during the last three months or so, the company's official air pollution readings, filed with the New Mexico government, reveal.

The emissions were made during 12 incidents involving the shutting down of the plant's air pollution control equipment for over 183 hours in total, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

To be fair, ten of those incidents were part of Chipzilla's maintenance schedule, though the remaining two were due to unexpected "power bumps" - spikes or dips that knocked out the air scrubbers. This unplanned downtime appears to have contributed the most to the plant's overall emission volume.

In total some 762 pounds (346kg) of "volatile organic compounds" were released from the plant's chimneys - the equivalent of the exhaust from one car during a 110,000 mile drive, according US Environmental Protection Agency estimates cited by Intel.

Chipzilla's scrubbers reduce the emissions concentration from 4-10 parts per million to 1-2 parts per million, Intel's health and safety manager James Casciano told the AJ. "For reference, one capful of bleach to one gallon of water equals 50 parts per million," he added, though we'd note that the "volatile organic compounds" churned out by Chipzilla's plant are rather more nasty than bleach.

Still, the emissions did not exceed the amounts permitted by Intel's air permit, the company said. ®

Related Link

The Albuquerque Journal's pollution piece