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Three workers injured in second Samsung plant gas leak in four months

updated 06:12 am EDT, Thu May 2, 2013

Hydrofluoric acid incident re-occurs in hazardous processor factory

An incident at a Samsung production facility has seen another set of employees injured. The leak of hydrofluoric acid gas at the processor plant in Hwaseong, Korea is the second incident of its kind in a four-month period, with the previous incident taking place at the same factory with the same leaked gas causing injury.

The Yonhap News Agency reports that three employees were affected by the leak, and though there is no mention of the level of injury suffered by the workers. In the first incident in January, four workers were hospitalized and one died after 10 liters of aerosolized acid was released into the area. It was reported that workers covered the leak with a plastic bag, and authorities were not alerted to the incident for nearly 14 hours, with the company forced to do so after the death of a maintenance crew worker.

Hydrofluoric acid is a toxic contact poison that affects the nervous system, with cardiac arrests and metabolic interference causing death after having 25 square inches of skin exposed to it. Typically, Hydrofluoric acid is used to etch silicon wafers and for removing impurities from stainless steel.

After the previous incident, Samsung issued a public apology for the gas leak, and vowed to prevent a recurrence. As a self-imposed penance, the company said it would not apply for its Hwaseong plants to be certified as "green" operations for the next few years. Samsung was also fined a nominal $1,000 for failing to report the leak quickly enough. Depending on the investigation this time, Samsung may face stiffer penalties.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. seeknemo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-29-09

    Barely news since it doesn't have Apple in it. Didn't even read about the first time this happened, such a double standard. If it were Apple, they would have been crucified.

  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-13-01

    Samsung gets a pass. They always do. Now, if they were manufacturing a part for Apple in this factory the news would be plastered all over the world's media front pages. And Apple would be blamed for the accident. Fact of life.

  1. jdonahoe

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-05-06

    Hydrofluoric is the worst kind of acid. It eats skin. If you get a small drop on your fingernail, it bores straight through the nail and then spreads out under the nail, so that even an immediate rinsing doesn't reduce the damage. As an aerosol, it would destroy your lungs.

  1. climacs

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 09-06-01

    You can (or at least, at one time I could) buy hydrofluoric acid. I think I got it at a pool supply store and I was intending to use it to remove rust. I so thoroughly read all the warnings about using this stuff that I scared myself out of using it. Used it once, just barely, then took it to the city hazardous waste collection for proper disposal of a nearly entire bottle of it. Scary, scary stuff.

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-01-08

    @climacs:

    If you rewrote your comment and replaced "hydrofluoric acid" with "Samsung Android Phone", it would still read well, and make a lot of sense :-)

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    The hypocrisy of the mainstream press -- I'm looking particularly at you, New York Times -- when it comes to conditions at factories that make anything -- ANYTHING -- other than iPhones is simply astonishing. Occasionally we hear about an explosion or incident at another plant that has taken lives, but never for more than a moment -- no investigative reporting, no public shaming, no transparent methodology for correcting the problem, no Mike Daisey. I wonder why?

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