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Air quality board permits Hynix to boost emissions.

Byline: Sherri Buri McDonald The Register-Guard

After almost a year of gathering facts and deliberating, local air regulators have approved Hynix's request to more than double the limits on how much hydrogen fluoride it can release into the air each year.

Hynix is a computer-chip manufacturer in west Eugene with 1,215 workers.

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency on Thursday renewed Hynix's Air Contaminant Discharge Permit, raising the hydrogen fluoride cap to 5 tons a year, up from 1.8 tons.

The new permit, which requires more frequent monitoring than the previous one, will be in force through Dec. 31, 2011.

Hynix had notified the air agency in July 2006 that it was nearing the maximum emissions allowed for the year because it had increased production and because the method to calculate emissions had changed.

Hynix's request to boost its hydrogen fluoride emissions generated a flood of 275 public comments, raising concerns about potential effects on the environment and public health.

The EPA classifies hydrogen fluoride as a hazardous air pollutant. In large doses, it can irritate skin, eyes and the respiratory tract and affect the health of plants and animals.

"One of the concerns we heard often was that the community was uncomfortable with a testing requirement of once every five years (as the proposed permit required)," the agency's director Merlyn Hough said in prepared remarks. "The final version of the permit requires testing semi-annually, which should give the community more confidence."

Hynix spokesman Bobby Lee said the company suggested that it test the air coming out of its exhaust stacks twice a year, after discussions with air regulators and community mem- bers.

"Stack testing allows all parties to get on the same page," he said. "We were all using hypothetical data, and I think everyone came to realize that without good data it was difficult to make good decisions."

Fred Hamlin, who raises prize-winning llamas on his ranch about a mile from the Hynix plant, said the new permit doesn't allay his concerns.

"Hynix picks the vendor (doing the stack testing), pays them and provides the information to LRAPA, so it's all one-sided," he said.

"Ideally, you'd have stack monitoring out of each of the stacks on a daily basis," Hamlin said. "It's not that expensive, so I don't totally understand the reluctance by LRAPA to insist upon that because it's the safest way, and LRAPA's charge is to safeguard the public."

Hynix chooses the third-party consultant that performs the testing, and the company has to give the air agency 45 days' notice so it can approve the testing plan, agency spokeswoman Kim Metzler said.

An agency employee will observe the stack testing at Hynix and do spot checks on the readings, she said, adding that the company is required to test at between 90 percent and 110 percent of their normal production level.

Any falsification of permit requirements would involve large fines, Metzler said.

Hynix's previous permit expired on May 23, 2006, and the company had been trying since July 2006 to raise the cap on hydrogen fluoride emissions, according to the air agency's records.

Hynix ended up releasing 2.06 tons of hydrogen fluoride into the air in 2006, about 15 percent more than was allowed. The air agency sent a notice of violation and fined the company $800 on July 25, 2007. Hynix paid the fine on August 13, Metz<302>ler said.

By the end of next week, the new permit and responses to comments regarding the permit will be available on the air agency's Web site at lrapa.org.
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Title Annotation:Business; The computer-chip maker will be allowed to more than double hydrogen fluoride output
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 7, 2007
Words:597
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