The town must take a role in monitoring whether the proposed Advanced Micro Devices computer chip plant complies with environmental protection rules, speakers said at a public hearing Monday.
“You really need to hire someone to monitor what’s going on there, because nobody else will look out for yourselves like yourselves,” said resident Carol Henry.
Henry was among eight speakers at a Town Board hearing on an updated environmental impact statement being done by AMD, and also on zoning changes being sought by the company.
AMD has proposed a $3.2 billion computer chip factory at the Luther Forest Technology Campus where about 1,465 people would work.
It needs the environmental study completed and zoning changes approved by the town before it can start.
AMD has asked for zoning changes that would reduce town involvement in environmental monitoring at the plant, saying its internal processes and compliance with state and federal regulations should be sufficient. A majority of the Town Board agreed at a meeting last week, but that decision isn’t final.
Residents on Monday said the industrial process and the amount of chemicals used in chip making create risks to the environmental that the town needs to watch for.
“I’m concerned about the drawback on environmental monitoring by the town,” said Ann Klotz. “We don’t really have a choice but to learn to do it.”
Klotz sits on, and Henry chairs, a town-appointed citizen Community Response Board, which submitted a letter of questions and concerns.
“Nanotechnology risks to the health of workers and the environment are actively being studied,” it concluded. “The town should require updates and revised permits as further research is completed and impacts are better understood.”
AMD officials and several representatives of economic development organizations also attended the hearing, but did not speak.
“We came here to listen. That’s our primary goal,” Ward Tisdale, AMD’s manager of global community affairs, said afterward.
Worldwide, chip making is considered a clean industry with a good environmental protection record, he said.
AMD hasn’t made a final commitment to build the Luther Forest plant, despite discussing an aggressive timetable. Tisdale said the decision is now in the hands of AMD’s senior management and board of directors.
Under an incentive deal with the state, AMD has until June 2009 to break ground.
Company officials have previously said they would like clearance to begin site preparation on the 230 acres it plans to buy this summer, with the possibility construction could start in January.
In keeping with that proposed schedule, AMD wants to complete the environmental and zoning change review by late June, said its attorney, Matthew Jones of Saratoga Springs.
Written comments on the impacts will be accepted by the town through May 16. The Town Board has scheduled a meeting for May 19 to begin discussing the comments and to hear recommendations from its engineering firm and other technical advisers.
“Hopefully we can begin making some decisions,” said Town Supervisor Paul Sausville.