Samsung probe shows Texas semiconductor plant spilled acid waste for months

Samsung probe shows Texas semiconductor plant spilled acid waste for months

Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor factory in Austin, Texas, spilled acidic waste for months, killing aquatic life in a river tributary nearby, an investigation showed.

The amount of acidic waste that entered the tributary is unknown, and there is “no measurable impact” to water chemistry and aquatic life further downstream in the Harris Branch Creek, according to a January 27 memorandum by the city’s Watershed Protection Department sent to Austin’s mayor and city council.

The company discovered a release of industrial wastewater in its stormwater collection pond on January 14, it said in a statement. It immediately stopped the release and took action to minimise the impact to the environment, Samsung said.

Samsung, which focuses most of its production in its home base of South Korea, has a logic semiconductor plant in Austin that makes chips on a contract basis for other companies.

“Samsung Austin Semiconductor is committed to environmental stewardship and recognises our role in preserving the natural beauty of Central Texas,” company representative Michele Glaze said in the statement, adding that Samsung immediately notified environmental authorities of “dilute amounts of sulphate and hydrogen peroxide within the industrial wastewater of concern".

The Samsung plant may have dumped as much as 763,000 gallons of the waste for as long as 106 days into a stormwater pond on its property, which then affected the tributary, according to the Watershed Protection Department memo.

Sections of the tributary had a pH level that was “far below normal” for surface water this month, it said, adding that as of January 19, the pH was close to normal.

Dead and missing aquatic life in the affected stretch indicate “the discharge had a significant short-term impact on the aquatic community and the ecology of the tributary,” the report said. “It is too early to know what the long-term impacts might be.”

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