News Column

Air Permits for Data Centers in Quincy Under Review

June 13, 2014

SPOKANE, Wash., June 13 -- The Washington State Department of Ecology issued the following news release:

Microsoft Corporation is proposing a new data center and upgrades to the operation of an existing facility in Quincy. The work requires air permits ( from the Washington Department of Ecology to ensure human health and the environment are protected.

The data centers house servers that store digital data, provide email, manage instant messages, and run applications for computers. They require cooling towers to keep equipment from overheating, as well as backup generators in case of power outages.

Particle pollution, at high enough levels, can cause health problems. One source of pollution is the fine particles from diesel engine exhaust. Cooling towers also release particles into the air.

Maintenance and testing of diesel generators at the Quincy-area data centers will be coordinated so the generators are not all running at the same time, reducing exposure to air pollution.

Oxford Data Center

At the new facility 37 diesel generators, 32 cooling towers and air pollution control equipment to reduce particles released into the air would be installed. The new generators would be in addition to the 158 generators already permitted at six other Quincy-area facilities.

Microsoft is proposing to install advanced equipment to reduce air pollutants beyond federal clean air requirements.

The draft permit for this facility includes several additional conditions that protect the public from air pollution including limits on fuel and specified hours of operation for the generators.

For more details and information about the permit, a public hearing will be held at 5 p.m. on July 24 at the Quincy Community Center, 115 F St. SW, Quincy, Wash. 98848.

Comments on the draft air permit for Oxford Data Center will be accepted through July 29.

Columbia Data Center

The Columbia Data Center currently has an Ecology air permit to operate 37 diesel generators and 12 cooling towers. Microsoft is proposing to change cooling tower operations to decrease water use. The change will increase particles released into the air while still meeting clean air requirements. Diesel generator operations approved under the current permit will not be altered.

Comments on the draft air permit for Columbia Data Center will be accepted through July 19.

Submit comments

Comments and questions for both draft air permits should be addressed to Beth Mort (, Department of Ecology, Air Quality Program, 4601 N. Monroe, Spokane, Wash. 99205.

Review permits

* Ecology's website (

* Ecology's Eastern Regional Office, 4601 N. Monroe, Spokane, WA 99205

* Quincy City Hall, 104 B Street SW, Quincy, WA 98848

* Quincy Library, 208 Central Ave S, Quincy, WA 98848

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Source: Targeted News Service

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