Samsung Publicly Apologizes For Fatal Gas Leak At Semiconductor Plant

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Samsung has issued a rare public apology for a January 28 gas leakage at one of the company’s semiconductor plants that resulted in the death of a contractor.

The accident occurred at Samsung’s semiconductor plant in Hwaseong, and injured four other workers in addition to the worker that died. The public apology, made by company vice chairman Kwon Oh-hyun, comes after Samsung co-president Jeon Dong Su apologized to families of the workers affected and confirmed a third-party investigation into the causes of the hydrofluoric acid gas leak.

According to a report from Yonhap News Agency, hydrofluoric acid is a colorless acute poison that can damage the lungs and bones and affect the nervous system. Two days after the incident, Samsung was fined just one million won (about $1,000 USD) for not reporting the gas leak quickly enough. An official alert was not given until after the contractor had died in a hospital.

Furthermore, police also said that an analysis of CCTV footage showed that hydrofluoric acid had leaked into the area around the plant after the accident, which conflicted with Samsung’s earlier statement that the situation had been contained. Police said they would not rule out the possibility that tens of thousands of residents living within a 2 kilometer radius of the Hwaseong plant have been partially affected by the gas.

Kwon said in his statement that Samsung will revoke its application to have its Hwaseong plants certified as “green” by the government for the next five years. The company’s plants in Hwaseong were first certified as green in 1998, which meant they could bypass regular inspections. An application for re-designation had been submitted to the government in late August.

Seven people, including three of Samsung’s officials, are being investigated on charges of negligence related to the hydrofluoric acid gas leak. Kwon said that the company is taking steps to prevent similar accidents from happening.

“We plan to overhaul the system in a bid to better make environmentally-friendly workplaces,” Kwon said.