A Canadian Company Called HiTest Sand is proposing to build a smelter in Newport Washington. The proposed smelter will discharge up to 700 tons per year of nitrogen oxide, 601 tons of carbon monoxide and 760 tons of sulfur dioxide, along with 111 tons per year of particulate matter. The smelter would be the 15th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the state of Washington. The company also requested 240,000 gallons of water per day from the city of Newport, although they claim they will use a maximum of 8,000 per day. This has many local residents concerned about the health of the air they breathe and the water they drink.
The company needed cheap electricity and wood chips from surrounding sawmills which is how this project ended up in Newport. To produce pure silicon, the silica is mixed with wood chips, coal and charcoal, which is then heated in high temperature furnaces. During the reaction, the oxygen bond is broken, leaving pure silicon. Additionally, the oxygen bonds with carbon from the wood chips, coal and charcoal, creating carbon dioxide.
The smelter will remove soot from its emissions, but will not capture the pollutants that cause smog and acid rain. The projected emissions from the smelter are six to 18 times greater than the threshold for new polluters in Class 1 airsheds. Class 1 airshed is a classification under the Clean Air Act to provide the most protection to pristine lands by limiting the amount of additional air pollution that can be added to these areas. A dozen Class 1 airsheds lie within a 185-miles radius of the smelter, including Glacier National Park and the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area.
Another concern is that the air pollution could affect the few remaining 11 Caribou that are located near the Canadian border of northern Idaho and eastern Washington. The Sulphur dioxide could harm the lichen species that the caribou need to survive.
All of these concerns should be fully reviewed prior to moving forward on this project. Please reach out to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and ask them to require HiTest to collect site-specific data over a 1-year period.