From Ecology: PacWest Silicon Smelter Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Public Comment Period – September 11, 2018 – October 26, 2018

PacWest Silicon is proposing to build a smelter near the city of Newport in Pend Oreille County. The manufacturing process converts quartz rock (supplied by the company HiTest Sand) into silicon metal that can be used in aluminum, silicone polymer, and polysilicon production.

Ecology has determined that this project may have significant impacts on the environment and will be conducting a full State Environmental Policy Act review of these impacts. A report called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be developed to detail the findings. As the lead agency for the environmental review, Ecology will develop the EIS to study impacts of the project on the surrounding environment. The first step in this process is to collect information from the public about what should be included in the environmental review, also called the scope.
We are looking for information about what we should study and how we should study it.

View more information about the PacWest project, including project documents and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Use the WA Department of Ecology online comment form.
Preliminary comments from The Lands Council:
Residents of Pend Oreille and Bonner Counties are rightfully concerned about the emissions that might come from the facility, including sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, carbon dioxides and particulate matter. Specifically we ask that the following be considered in the scoping for this project.

1. The use of coal from Kentucky is one option for providing the carbon needed in the smelting process. We believe there are better options that would substantially reduce the sulfur dioxide. One of those options would be to use locally produced biochar. Biochar, which is activated carbon, can be produced from wood or agricultural waste products, such as slash piles, milling residue, crop residue and other plant materials. It would be much lower in sulfur content, create jobs locally and would also avoid transportation costs and diesel emissions. We ask that the feasibility of this option be analyzed.
2. Power plants, smelters, industrial furnaces, waste-to-energy plants, etc all release nitrous oxides. Filters and scrubbers can eliminate much of this nitrous oxide, which like sulfur dioxide can lead to acid rain. We ask that a thorough analysis of reducing the nitrous oxides be analyzed and that state of the art nitrous oxide emission reduction be part of the plan. We also would like other expected air emissions be addressed, including PM2.5 emissions.
3. The carbon dioxide emissions are very large. A claim is made that the silicon that was produced would be used in solar panels. Is there any guarantee that this would actually occur, and if so, what commitment is PacWest making?

We understand that the proposed location of the smelter moved from one controversial site to another. Is the current siting a given or will Ecology look at other areas in Pend Oreille County, such as north of Metaline Falls?

There have been claims about water usage and the source of that water. Please offer an accurate assessment of the water issue.