Recently I was notified by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that the 520 responses received were insufficient to warrant a public hearing on data center air quality emissions. Digital Loudoun Parkway Center N LLC facility (Digital) is classified under DEQ air regulations as a major source of air pollution.
The public notice was only placed in the Washington Times on Oct. 15, 2019. Thirty days were given for responses. It should have been published in the Washington Post online and Loudoun County newspapers for greater transparency since its readers and residents will be most affected during inadequate power grid availability, blackouts or potential cyber attacks. Considering global warming creates more electrical grid surges more shortage outages can be expected.
The data center backup generators create dangerous air quality emissions. The units are diesel engine generator sets (gensets) that provide electrical power to the data hosting equipment and supporting components (e.g. fire suppression equipment and air conditioning) in the event of inadequate power being available via the connection to the electric utility grid to maintain normal operations. This facility currently has one active minor new source review (NSR) permit. According to the DEQ, of the 520 comments received “not enough comments were raised on the conditions of the Title V permit itself.”
The comments included 517 individual comments submitted through a Virginia Sierra Club standardized mass electronic mailing, one organization (Virginia Sierra Club), and two additional individuals participated in the public comment period.
The DEQ does not consider the mass mailing sufficient. The DEQ wants 25 individual comments to warrant a public hearing.
Who knew? How can Loudoun County require the DEQ to notify our residents in our local free weekly newspapers and The Washington Post about potential hazards and hearings we are entitled to request?