Physicians oppose Newport smelter

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

A coalition of physicians and health care professionals has issued an open letter opposing the proposed Newport silicon smelter.

Known as the Inland NW Physicians for Healthy Communities, the group consists of more than 40 health care professionals in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Chief among their concerns is the smelter’s potential to increase air and water pollution, contaminate soil, endanger its own employees and further environmental injustice, particularly to underserved and Native communities.

The letter breaks down in detail the risks health care providers foresee from the smelter’s pollution. It also highlights the link between increased pollution levels and health problems, especially for those who already suffer from poor health. 

Even more concerning to the group members is the short public scoping period and the lack of a detailed proposal from PacWest, the company seeking permits for the smelter project.

“We as physicians and allied health care providers of this region are writing to you, our Washington State Department of Ecology, with our STRONG OPPOSITION to the proposal to build a silicon smelter in Newport, Wash.,” the letter concludes. “We have the firm belief that this silicon smelter would be a direct health threat to the citizens of this area, and we know that our opinions are grounded in scientific facts.”

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