Input sought on Quincy data center air permit update

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QUINCY — Public input is currently being sought on an updated air permit for a data center in Quincy.

Vantage Data Centers, based out of California, is proposing changes for 17 backup generators at its Quincy facility. The proposal changes the type of pollution control equipment that is currently being used at the location, which requires the company obtain an updated air quality permit from the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) to make sure people and the environment are equally protected.

“Data centers house servers that store digital data, handle email, manage instant messages and run applications for computers. Vantage uses backup generators powered by diesel engines to keep the servers functioning in case of power outages,” reads a news release from the DOE. “Diesel engine exhaust contains fine particles that can cause health problems for people who are exposed frequently and at high enough levels.”

The DOE previously approved an air permit for the diesel generators for Vantage Data Centers in 2013. Included in the permit was pollution controls that were proposed by Vantage, which came after the company discovered pollution control equipment was not functioning properly and Vantage put in a request to modify the requirement, which led to the current review from the state.

“Ecology required Vantage to conduct a health impact assessment to evaluate the potential health risks as a result of the permit changes. Although allowable pollution levels would increase in the updated permit, the assessment found that the data center will meet criteria intended to protect people’s health,” stated the DOE.

Vantage’s updated permit allows the generators to be operated for backup power and engine testing. In addition, Vantage will be required to limit the number of hours the generators can be used each year and the company will be installing taller exhaust stack on the 12 generators, to reduce air pollution.

The DOE is holding a public hearing on the updated air permit at 5 p.m. July 12 at the Quincy Community Center, 115 F Street SW. Comments and questions on the permit can be submitted by either visiting ac.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=8c3A9, emailing Kari Johnson at kari.johnson@ecy.wa.gov or writing to Kari Johnson, Department of Ecology, Air Quality Program, 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA 99205. Comments are being accepted until July 17.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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