PacWest Silicon Smelter

Lake Pend Oreille | Pend Oreille River

The PacWest Silicon Smelter is ON HOLD!

PacWest Silicon (HiTest Sand Inc) confirmed in a Jan 15, 2020 letter to Gov. Jay Inslee the Silicon Smelter project is ON HOLD for “the immediate future” because of regulatory and community challengesPacWest Silicon and its parent company, Edmonton, Alberta-based HiTest Sand Inc. have pursued construction of the silicon smelter since 2016 on the site south of Newport and the Pend Oreille River, adjacent to the Idaho border.

Stay tuned for updates!


Emissions from proposed smelter could impact the ecosystem function of our local waterways over time through acid deposition

PacWest Silicon (formerly known as HiTest) has proposed to build a smelter on more than 180 acres at the Washington/Idaho border in Newport, Washington.

If the proposal is approved, the smelter would produce up to 73,000 tons of silicon metal each year – as well as 320,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide, 760 metric tons per year of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 700 metric tons per year of nitrogen oxides (NOX).

Environmental concerns

The primary concern for water quality in our watershed is the impact of acid rain. The sulfuric and nitric acids formed in the atmosphere fall to the ground mixed with rain, snow, fog, or hail.

Proposed project expected to generate GHGs with a potential to emit up to 766,000 tons per year!

According to the EPA, increasing greenhouse emissions by 766,000 tons is equivalent to adding 162,663 passenger vehicles to the roads each day in Newport!

Acid Rain Pathway

Acid rain results when sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) are emitted into the atmosphere (1) and transported by wind and air currents.

The SO2 and NOX react with water, oxygen and other chemicals to form sulfuric and nitric acids (2).

These then mix with water and other materials before falling to the ground (3)…as wet and dry deposition (dust, rain, snow, etc) and (4) may cause harmful effects.

Source: EPA

Due to the close proximity of the proposed smelter location to the Lake Pend Oreille region, emissions from the smelter could impact the ecosystem function of our local waterways over time through acid deposition. According to the EPA, “winds can blow SO2 and NOX over long distances and across borders making acid rain a problem for everyone and not just those who live close to these sources”.

Air Emissions

“The facility is expected to release air pollutants to the atmosphere, which will be regulated by federal and state standards. The pollutants fit into four categories, including criteria pollutants, hazardous air pollutants, toxic air pollutants, and greenhouse gases (GHGs).”

Proposed Project Site

“The proposed project site is approximately 188 acres, located southeast of the city of Newport, Washington. The proposed facility would occupy approximately 70 percent of the property and consist of several sheet-metal clad buildings, the tallest would be 157 feet above grade. A proposed rail spur and loop to the west of the site would connect the facility with existing tracks, and would be used to hold the trains while cars containing raw materials are unloaded.”

Rail Traffic

“The number of rail cars unloaded per day is expected to range between 1 and 100 with an average of approximately 10 per day. An average of five rail cars would be loaded with products and shipped off-site each day. Unloading operations would occur only between 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Inbound and outbound rail shipments are expected to occur throughout the year.” “…All raw materials would be brought to the site by rail, except wood chips, which would be delivered by truck. Product would be removed from the site by rail or truck, as determined by the customer.”

Regulatory Framework

The Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) is the regulatory agency responsible for the environmental review of the project under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) as well as issuing environmental permits for the project. Since the proposed project location is not located in the state of Idaho, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) does not have regulatory authority over this proposed project.

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