and Corrales History
Since 1982, when Intel began operations in a
small, modern-looking building on the mesa overlooking the Rio Grande
between Corrales and Rio Rancho until 1992, few residents of either
community paid much attention. The Intel name was known, of course, so
there was some pride in the fact that the advanced, high-tech firm had
located here. In those early days, the only vague concern was for
potential contamination of domestic wells that served each home in the
still largely agricultural Corrales Valley below Intel. The microchip
manufacturer was, after all, responsible for at least one "Super
Fund" clean-up site in Silicon Valley.
In the late 1980s, Intel began to expand its
Rio Rancho operations using industrial
revenue bonds sponsored by county government. In 1993 residents began to
wonder if there was a connection between their illnesses and disorders and
possible air pollution from Intel. A small ad in the local newspaper in the summer of 1993 urged
anyone who was tired of exposure to Intel's fumes to come to a Village
Council meeting. The resulting turnout was startling; names and phone
numbers were exchanged and Corrales Residents for Clean Air was formed.
Two months later, its scope and name were expanded to Corrales Residents
for Clean Air and Water (CRCAW).
In August 1993, the following mission statement
was adopted: "Our mission is to educate the community on 'Right to
Know' issues, to encourage Intel to be a good corporate neighbor by
releasing information to the public and by adopting first-class,
state-of-the-art emissions controls in the short run and reduction
and/or substitution of toxic chemicals in the long run."
Over the next decade, CRCAW has:
- Worked to inform residents of Corrales and Rio
Rancho about Intel's Air pollution which includes hundreds of tons
of federal-listed Hazardous Air Pollutants and state-listed Toxic
- Negotiated a "Good Neighbor"
agreement with Intel requiring installation and operation of
incinerators to reduce pollutants (the major provisions of which
were incorporated into the N.M. Environment Department's (NMED)
regulatory process but later nullified by Intel).
- Initiated a county emergency evacuation plan
for Intel hazardous-material releases.
- Worked for improvements to the NMED air-quality
- Testified at numerous NMED hearings on Intel's
air pollution permit modifications.
- Protested massive allocations of scarce water
resources to Intel could jeopardized Corrales homeowners' wells.
- Conducted a health survey to collect data about
the kinds and degree of medical problems associated with exposure to
- Arranged for
bio-medical analysis for victims of illnesses thought to be linked
to Intel fumes.
- Advised Village government on water and air
- Collected testimonial letters from dozens of
Corrales residents who explained their medical problems and why they
believed those problems are linked to Intel's emissions.
- Initiated a U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency-funded Corrales Air Toxics Study.
- Purchased a community-owned Fourier Transform
Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer to continuously monitor and record air
pollution from the Intel facilities.
With its Albuquerque-based partner, Southwest
Organizing Project, the two grass roots organizations are thought to
operate the only community-purchased FTIR device in the United States at
this time. The spectrometer has measured dozens of toxic chemicals
in Corrales air; including phosgene, phosphine, hydrogen fluoride,
hydrogen cyanide, carbon tetrachloride, hexafluoroethane and benzene, to
name just a few.
Since Intel's neighboring residents' illnesses and symptoms
came to public attention in the early 1990s, Intel officials have consistently
denied their operations could be the cause. Intel
has treated residents' health complaints as an "odor problem;"
it installed incinerators in the mid-1990s to burn off volatile organic
compounds as an "odor abatement" measure.
After more than a decade of
residents' health problems, including but not limited:
fatal pulmonary fibrosis cases.
and reproductive disorders.
Loss of consciousness due to
FTIR monitors confirm release of multiple toxic
chemicals by Intel
Intel, whistle blowers,
confirmation/validating Intel's knowledge of releasing toxic
NMED regulator, whistle blower,
confirmation/validating of Intel's sham air pollution permits.
Intel continues to regard these
conditions as a public relations problem.
This is how the toxic chemicals released by
Intel's semiconductor fabrication plant, which will eventually end up in Corrales village:
The prevailing wind from Intel blows toward
Corrales across Intel's large buildings. When these winds reach
the edge of the building, the sharp drop-off creates a partial vacuum
in the cavity just past the building. This lower pressure
region, caused by building downwash (called Bernoulli effect in
physics) draws the air and any toxic gases it contains down toward
This actually happens twice because the Intel plant
is on a bluff above the Corrales valley. And when the prevailing
wind passes over the edge of the escarpment, the lower elevation of
Corrales draws the air down toward ground level again.
Once the polluted air is down in the lower
elevation of Corrales, it is shielded from the wind and is relatively
stagnant. The fact that Intel's most toxic emissions are
generally much higher density than air causes them to remain near
ground level longer before they eventually dissipate.
Phosgene, which caused 80% of the poison gas
fatalities in World War I is not only extremely toxic, its high
density (3.5 times that of air) causes it to remain near ground level
where it will cause the maximum number of fatalities. Yet,
Intel's current permit allows them to release 5.9 tons of this
chemical warfare agent each year.