Department of Ecology News Release - May 26, 2015

Revising air permit for data center in Quincy
Seeking comments on changes to Microsoft’s Oxford facility permit through June 18

CORRECTION: New dates and information have been added to paragraphs 5 and 6 to reflect proposed permit revisions.

SPOKANE – Microsoft Corporation is proposing changes to the way it operates and tests backup generators at its Oxford data center in Quincy. These changes require modification of an existing air permit from the Washington Department of Ecology to ensure human health and the environment are protected.

Data centers house servers that store digital data, handle email, manage instant messages and run applications for computers. Microsoft uses backup generators powered by diesel engines to keep servers functioning in case of power outages.

Diesel engine exhaust contains fine particles that can cause health problems for people who are exposed frequently and at high enough levels.

Ecology approved an air permit for Oxford in August 2014 for construction and operation of the facility.

Microsoft applied to revise the permit before completing construction and beginning operation. Changes to the permit include altering the testing schedule of backup generators and increasing compliance monitoring over a longer time period.

The allowable operating range for the backup generators also was revised. Changes to the operating range allow increased air pollution. Potential increases are within state and federal limits that are set to protect people and the environment.

Microsoft still proposes to install advanced air pollution control equipment that is more than required. Additional conditions in the permit to protect the public from air pollution include limits on fuel and specified hours of operation for the generators.

Public hearing

Ecology is hosting a public hearing on the air permit at 5 p.m. on July 9 at the Quincy Community Center, 115 F St. SW, Quincy, Wash. 98848. The public meeting begins at 5 p.m. and the formal hearing starts at 6:30 p.m.

Submit comments

Comments and questions for the draft air permit should be addressed to Beth Mort, Department of Ecology, Air Quality Program, 4601 N. Monroe, Spokane, WA. 99205.

Comments will be accepted from May 28 through July 13.

Review the revised permit

Contact:

Camille St. Onge, communications manager, camille.st.onge@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-6932, @ecologywa