Samsung, the behemoth of a company, is under investigation for an alleged gas leak cover up at one of its South Korean factories that killed one employee and injured four others.
Sunday at approximately 11 p.m. local time there was a hydrofluoric acid leak from a 500 liter (132 gallon) tank at a semiconductor plant in Hwaseong, South Korea, according to the Yonhap News Agency. Then again on Monday at about 5 a.m. there was another leak from the tank. On the second leak a rumored ten liters of the acid in gas form escaped from a pipeline.
According to Samsung, they sent a maintenance crew to alleviate the leak. During their mission to repair the broken pipeline, a crew member died from prolonged exposure to the gas poisonous to humans. Then, a group of four employees had to be transported to the hospital for over-exposure of the gas but were shortly discharged.
Samsung’s failure to report the death of the employee raised the suspicion of local authorities.
Confirming the story, Samsung allegedly stated the following, “a small amount of diluted hydrofluoric acid leaked early Monday morning during maintenance at one of the gas and chemical supply systems at the Hwaseong site.” Later they added that the situation was contained and production was not affected by the incident, therefore the facility should be safe for other workers.
Samsung is being investigated for not reporting the incident to officials in a timely manner. During the investigation, investigators want to answer whether or not workers had “access to proper safety equipment,” a South Korean government official told AsiaE.
Hydrofluoric acid is used for various pharmaceuticals and to create other materials, such as Teflon. It is a solution of hydrogen fluoride in water. It is highly corrosive and can dissolve a diverse range of materials, especially oxides. Historically, since the 17th century, hydrofluoric acid was used to dissolve glass. According to scientists, it can have an adverse effect on people. The solution in its gas form, is an acute poison to humans that can instantly damage lungs and the corners of the eyes permanently.
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