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Wednesday, July 15, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Steve and Cora McConnell: Jobs smelter would bring won’t outweigh its harmful effects

By Steve and Cora Mcconnell Special to The Spokesman-Review

Why we are opposed to the HiTest Sands proposed silicon smelter in Newport, Washington. There are so many reasons, let’s start with the inconsistencies from both HiTest Sands and Washington state officials, beginning with water! On Nov. 29, 2017, HiTest Sands sponsored a public forum to “inform” John Q. Public of all the benefits HiTest would bring to our region.

There are three times in the PowerPoint presentation that HiTest repeats “only 8,000 gal/day of water will be used.” However, an email dated Jan. 12, 2018, from Newport City Administrator Ray King reads “The city of Newport will not be able to provide you the requested 240,000 gallons of water daily.”

At that forum, Jason Tymco, president of HiTest, stated “50 percent of HiTest production will be sold into solar energy.” Later, COO HiTest Chief Operating Officer Jim May said, “REC [Silicon, a Moses Lake refinery] will be our customer, they will take 99 percent pure silicon produced by HiTest and further refine it to the 99.9999999(99) as needed for solar panels.”

The problem here, REC is NOT a solar energy provider or maker of solar panels! Truth is, HiTest cannot dictate what use will be made of their product once is leaves their facility! Which leads to Gov. Inslee’s designation of “Project of Statewide Significance”! The application states “The project must support a large manufacturing site or fit within one of the following key economic growth sectors: aerospace, agriculture and food manufacturing, clean technology, forest products, information and communication technology life science/global health, maritime, military and defense.” Since the product leaving the HiTest facility would not be of a grade consistent for use in solar panels, we contend Hi Test is not eligible for the $300,000 given them by the state of Washington.

During the question-and-answer period (at the forum), the question was posed that on a PowerPoint presentation “similar” to the one used at this forum, the last page states “production process does not require or produce any heavy metals or hazardous chemicals as by products,” you also have a Modeling Protocol which states sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, so which is it? Will you emit no toxic chemicals or some? The answer was, Yes! Those are toxic. They further spun this into how the carbon footprint created here will be offset 9-fold over the life of the solar panels.

Perhaps, Rep. Shelly Short was unaware of the dangers of this type of business. In her zealousness to bring jobs to our area she may not have fully investigated the impacts.

HiTest’s project site sits less than a mile from a residential housing community, churches, schools, a hospital and the downtown district of Newport. Additionally, the increased traffic due to truckloads of materials being delivered (and empty trucks leaving the facility as well) will put undue pressure on our already stressed roadways.

Allow us, please, to return to the air quality issue, as this is the worst part of this whole plan! 386,250 tons per year of carbon dioxide (acid rain, greenhouse gas), carbon monoxide, 660 tpy (smog), sulfur dioxide, 2,180 tpy (acid rain, smog) nitrogen oxide, 1,351 tpy (acid rain, smog). Additional greenhouse gases – 6,504 tons per year – in the form of carbonic acid, sulfuric acid and nitric acid. All this coming from the 150-foot stack, with an ability to travel up to 130-mile radius.

This is a bad deal all the way around! The few jobs that will be created are far outweighed by the negative effects to the health and well-being of our citizens, wildlife and waterways.

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