Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
Department of Environmental Quality
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2/26/23  10:33 am
Commenter: Ally Stoeger

Additive Impact of Multiple Clusters of Mega Data Center Campuses

Recent approvals of multiple clusters of mega data center campuses  in Prince William County  have resulted in 47 million square feet of data centers built or zoned. Of this 47 million square feet, only 12%  has been built to date. The MEGA data center campuses that have been approved adjacent to homes and schools have barely started construction.   

Even WITHOUT a diesel pollution variance residents of Manassas, Gainesville, Bristow and Haymarket are at risk for diesel pollution due to:

  1. Heavy construction machinery for 10 – 15 years of multiple clusters of mega data centers being built close to each other and adjacent to homes and schools.
  2. Busy truck routes on I-66, Route 29, Route 234, Linton Hall Road -- even before data center construction truck traffic for these massive projects is added.  Adding so many more construction trucks to the already heavy commuter congestion on these roads will result in even more stop-and-go construction truck traffic, and will be another additive source for diesel pollution.
  3. Heavy loss of treed areas surrounding major roads because these are the very same areas being cleared for data center construction. Previously these heavily treed areas  helped filter diesel pollution on these heavy truck and commuter routes.  That filtering mechanism is being lost throughout Gainesville and Bristow along I-66 and Route 29 due to data center and other recent construction.
  4. A new commuter lot has opened adjacent to I-66 and Route 29  and will increase stop and go traffic congestion in this area.  Again, heavily treed areas around 66 and 29  were cleared for this project.
  5. A new Sheetz gas station is being built at Route 29 and University.  Given the proximity to so much data center construction, this Sheetz station may function more as a truck stop, with high levels of diesel pollution due to stop and go diesel construction truck traffic.  And  again, heavily treed areas adjacent to I-66 and Route 29 were cleared for this project.
  6. A second asphalt plant has been added to Gainesville. Again,  a heavily treed area in Gainesville along I-66 was cleared for this project. 
  7. Thousands of diesel generators for these mega data center campuses will require testing resulting in serious community noise and diesel pollution.  

The bottom line is that even WITHOUT a variance we are looking at neighborhoods in Manassas and Western Prince William County  at high risk for diesel and particulate matter.  Of note is that unlike working adults, children and seniors are at even higher risk because they spend almost all their time in their neighborhood.

This proposed variance increases the present danger of diesel and particulate pollution in Northern Virginia and would also set a dangerous precedent that county planning officials and Supervisors, particularly in PWC,  can count on support from DEQ to continue the frenzied zoning pace and approve even more mega data center campuses.  

I urge DEQ  to pay close attention to the safety of the citizens of Manassas, Gainesville, Bristow and Haymarket as a practically contiguous zone of massive clusters of data centers is being zoned around them.  I further urge DEQ to stand up for the people of this community as PWC officials look to double down on this crisis by approving the largest data center alley in the world, rezoning of the PW Digital Gateway. 

Zoning approvals of data centers at never-before-seen numbers being paired with blind faith that this many data centers would be environmentally sustainable on any level, including the electrical grid, are  a high risk gamble.

Ally Stoeger, OD

Director, Health and Safety Policy

HOA Roundtable of Northern Virginia

CommentID: 209059