Vantage Data Centers, a California-based data services firm, is proposing changes for 17 backup generators at its facility in Quincy. The proposal alters the type of pollution control equipment used at the site, which requires 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. Vantage 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 the diesel generators at the facility in 2013, which included strict pollution controls proposed by Vantage. Testing found that the pollution control equipment added to the generators wasn’t functioning as expected and Vantage requested to modify the requirements, leading to the current state review.
Ecology required Vantage to conduct a health impact assessment to evaluate the potential health risks as a result of the permit changes. Although allowable pollution levels would increase in the updated permit, the assessment found that the data center will meet criteria intended to protect people’s health.
The updated permit allows the generators to operate for backup power and engine testing. It also requires Vantage to limit the total number of hours generators can be operated each year, and would require the company to install taller exhaust stacks on the 12 generators that haven’t been installed to reduce the impact of air pollution on people.
Ecology is holding a public hearing at 5 p.m. July 12 at the Quincy Community Center, 115 F Street SW.
Comments and questions on the draft permit should be submitted online, emailed or mailed to Kari Johnson,, Department of Ecology, Air Quality Program, 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA. 99205. Comments will be accepted from June 8 through July 17.
Review the revised permit
- Ecology’s website
- Ecology’s Eastern Regional Office, 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane
- Quincy City Hall, 115 1st Ave. S.W., Quincy
- Quincy Library, 208 Central Ave S., Quincy.