Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun apologized on Sunday for the mess Samsung caused back in January when hydrofluoric acid leaked at one of its factories, killing one contractor and injuring several others. The company released a formal apologetic statement after the incident, but this is the first time an executive has stepped forward with a public statement.
According to Kwon, Samsung plans to revoke its application to have its Hwaseong-based manufacturing plants, one of which played host to the leakage, certified as "green" operations for another five years. "We plan to overhaul the system in a bid to better make environmentally-friendly workplaces," Kwon said.
Kwon also added that Samsung plans to make more efforts in the prevention of similar accidents. Meanwhile, seven people, three of which are Samsung officials, are scheduled for investigation on charges of negligence. The local government is also re-evaluating the company's application for the "green" re-designation that was submitted in August 2012. Previously these plants were certified as "green" back in 1998.
At the end of January, hydrofluoric acid, an acute poison that can seriously damage lungs and bones in addition to affecting the nervous system, leaked from a 500 liter tank located at a semiconductor plant in Hwaseong, South Korea, just south of Seoul. Up to 10 liters of diluted hydrofluoric acid leaked from one of the pipes, requiring a five-member maintenance crew from STI Service to be called in for repairs.
"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," Samsung officially stated. The situation was contained and production was not affected, the company added.
Samsung reportedly didn't inform officials about the deadly gas leak until a full day after one of the STI Service cleanup contractors died from over exposure in the hospital. He was reportedly not wearing a full hazmat suit, donning only a gas mask, whereas the other four who were later discharged from the hospital were wearing their full protective gear.
Both Samsung and STI Service will reportedly only be fined $923 for violating a law stating that chemical leaks must be "promptly" reported.