Korean news sources are reporting that Samsung "covered up" gas leaks that led to the death of a worker at its semiconductor plant in Hwaseong, Korea. The incident began last night at around 11pm local time, when a 500 liter (132 gallon) tank of hydrofluoric acid started leaking its contents. The tank reportedly leaked again at 5am this morning; around 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of acid is said to have escaped, mostly in gas form. Although the precise series of events is unclear, at some point overnight Samsung called maintenance firm STI Service to fix the leak, but did not report it to the proper authorities until shortly before 3pm local time, an hour after a worker for the maintenance firm died from exposure to the acid. Four other STI workers were hospitalized, but have since made a full recovery.
A local government official told AsiaE that Samsung is being investigated to see if it violated any laws by not reporting the leak earlier. One focus of the investigation will be to ascertain whether or not workers were properly equipped with safety gear. Samsung has only commented to reassure residents in close proximity to the plant that "the possibility of a leak beyond [Samsung property] is zero," adding that it will take the necessary action to prevent similar accidents from happening again.
The worker that died was not wearing a hazard suit
Update: Korean news agency Yonhap has uncovered a number of fresh details regarding the incident. A Samsung spokesperson told the organization that the worker that died was not wearing a hazard suit, although he was wearing a gas mask. The four others that were hospitalized were equipped with full hazard suits. In a separate statement, an STI representative revealed that the company originally thought the leak was "minimal," and covered it with a plastic bag. The Korean police have said that the person in charge of the situation will be prosecuted if it's found that the worker died from "a lack of management and guidance from the company."
Hyunhu Jang contributed to this report
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