Department of Ecology News Release - October 3, 2016

Updating the air permit for Microsoft data center in Quincy
State seeking review and comments on changes for facility

QUINCY – Microsoft Corporation is proposing to add eight backup generators at its MWH data center (formerly the Oxford data center) in Quincy. The additional generators require an updated air quality permit from the Washington Department of Ecology to ensure that people 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 the 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 37 diesel generators at the facility in August 2014. Microsoft requested a revision to the permit in 2015, but it wasn’t finalized because the company identified additional changes that needed to be included. The company requested a new revision in April 2016.

In addition to the eight reserve generators, the updated permit reflects changes to the height and diameter of the engine exhaust stacks to match the actual dimensions that were built. The new generators will be placed in reserve and only be used if one of the original engines fails.

These changes will result in increases of some types of pollution and decreases of others compared to the previous permit. Ecology required Microsoft to conduct a health impact assessment to evaluate the potential health risks from the increased emissions. That assessment found that the data center will meet criteria intended to protect people and the environment if operated according to the permit.

Submit comments

Comments and questions on the draft permit should be emailed or mailed to Kari Johnson, Department of Ecology, Air Quality Program, 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA. 99205. Comments will be accepted from Oct. 6 through Nov. 4.

Review the revised permit


Brook Beeler, communications, 509-329-3478, @ecyspokane