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Quincy data centers’ diesel generators debated

The eastern Washington town of Quincy may get another 28 large diesel engines for its growing data center industry. That's the subject of a state-run public meeting today at Quincy's city hall.

Some residents are concerned about the pollution that comes from the big generators.

Some of your Internet queries might get answered by one of the thousands of servers spinning away in the town of Quincy. Those servers can't go dark even for a second.

So companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and Intuit have large generators. Now, Dell wants approval for 28 more. They would churn out more than 112,000 horse power.

Washington's Ecology Department says these generators release fine particles into the air that can cause health problems.

That worries former Quincy mayor Patty Martin.

"To think that around neighborhoods and around a K2 school ... that there is going to be a need for locomotive-sized generators sitting there and spewing out toxins," Martin said.

Environmental regulators plan another public meeting next month on a separate proposal to add 44 more generators for another company.

If both permits go through, Quincy would have 141 generators in town.

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Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.