January 29, 2013
A toxic chemical leak at a Samsung Electronics microchip plant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province killed one worker and injured four others, police said Monday.
Investigators said 10 liters of hydrofluoric acid was spilled from a pipe from around 11 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. They added the electronics giant reported the case to the police, fire service and provincial authorities 15 hours after the incident.
This is the fourth time since September last year that a toxic chemical leak has taken place at a manufacturing facility, raising concern over the safety measures put in place to handle such materials.
Three of the leaks involved hydrofluoric acid, a colorless liquid with a pungent odor that vaporizes easily and can cause serious irritation, and in some cases, permanent damage to the eyes, skin and lungs.
In one of the incidents on Sept. 27, 2012 at an industrial complex in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, five workers were killed and 18 others hospitalized after exposure.
Gyeonggi Police said the hydrofluoric acid began leaking when five workers were changing an old valve for a new one.
The old valve began to corrode and the acid was released in the form of pressurized vapor, but the workers only noticed it after they completed their work at 5 a.m.
A 34-year-old Park, and his colleagues complained of pains in their necks and chests, and were taken to a hospital in Seoul. Park, however, died at 1 p.m. Monday. The four others were released after medical treatment.
A Samsung Electronics manager said the company will conduct its own probe to find out the exact cause of the incident.
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