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.