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Archive for September, 2018

CCTV footage is released belying Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.’s claims about the recent carbon dioxide leak that left two dead and two injured at Samsung’s Giheuing plant on Sept. 4.

Recue In Real Time?

On Sept. 4, three temporary workers from Samsung’s contractor lost consciousness, poisoned by CO2 spewed through ruptured valves in a basement storage.  Two workers are now dead and two, including one Samsung first responder, injured.

Following the leak, Seo Dong-myeon, a Samsung spokesman, said Samsung’s own first responders rescued the three workers poisoned by the gas “almost in real time.”

Security Turnstile:  Putting Security Above Human Life

However, CCTV footage showed two of its own first responders showed up at the scene ten minutes after the leak.  They were not equipped with any protective gear but safety helmets, and had no emergency medical kits.  They spent twenty seconds passing the security turnstile with their ID cards.  Another ten minutes passed before five rescue workers, wearing oxygen masks, showed up. They also used security cards to pass the turnstile.

One Gurney and No Oxygen Kit

A CPR kit arrived 28 minutes after the leak, the footage shows, there was only one gurney.  The rescuers dragged the victims by their feet and performed CPR on them in the hallway.  No first aid oxygen kit was in sight.  A Samsung responder passed out upon getting off the elevator, revealing the fatally high density of CO2 at the site of the leak.

The footage was obtained by a lawmaker and released by the TV network JTBC, which filed this report

The following are image captures from the report (some images are blurred by the JTBC):

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Ten minutes into the leak, two Samsung responders without protective gear attempt to pass the security turnstile with their ID cards. The turnstile remained locked until thirty minutes after the leak.

 

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Twenty minutes after the leak, five responders equipped with protective gear showed up. They did not bring a CPR kit or a gurney.

 

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A Samsung rescuer passed out, revealing the high CO2 density of the site.

 

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Victims were pulled by their feet because there was no gurney.

 

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A gurney finally arrived.

 

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A CPR kit finally arrived about twenty minutes after the first response.

 

 

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Rescue workers performed CPR on a victim on the floor.

 

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A victim passed through the turnstile, now unlocked.

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leakpress

On Sept. 12, SHARPS and civil-society groups formed an ad hoc committee, calling on the government to better regulate Samsung’s safety measures.

 

Last week’s fatal carbon dioxide leak at Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.’s flagship chip plant claimed another life on Sept 12, as a 54-year-old worker was pronounced dead after eight days in a coma.  His death brought the toll up to two out of the four victims hospitalized on Sept 4. after their exposure to the gas.  One victim died the day he was exposed. The third remains unconscious.  A Samsung paramedic was also injured.

The four victims’ identities were not released.

Temporary Workers and Ruptured Valves

The three non-Samsung victims, all temps from the company’s outsourcer, were poisoned by carbon dioxide as they worked in a basement storage facility for the gas at the company’s Giheung plant in South Korea’s Gyonggi province.  The cause of the leak has yet to be determined, but valves were seen ruptured, according to Yonhap News.

Cover-up

Samsung left the local emergency management system in the dark over the leak, the independent Hankyoreh said on Sept. 12, after obtaining transcripts of phone calls between the company and EMS.

The EMS first contacted Samsung about two hours and 15 minutes after the leak. Samsung said, “the situation is over,” declining the EMS’s assistance.  Asked by the EMS whether and where the victims were hospitalized, Samsung answered it would let them know soon—but it did not.

The EMS had to inquire at all area hospitals.  It finally determined the victims’ whereabouts about two hours and 39 minutes after the leak.

On Sept. 10, the police conducted a search warrant at three locations of Giheung plant, now under probe by a 15-member multi-agency taskforce.

Civil Society Reacts

SHARPS and the two organizations, Gyonggi Environmental Forum and the province branch of the Green Party Korea, have formed an ad hoc committee to monitor the aftermath of the CO2 leak.

“We call on the government to determine whether Samsung has implemented safety measures as ordered in special audits over earlier fatal leaks at other Samsung plants in 2013 and 2014,” said the committee in a press conference on Sept. 12.

In the 2013 audit alone of two separate hydrofluoric acid, leaks the government discovered more than 2,000 safety breaches at Samsung and its outsourcers.

 

 

 

 

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A carbon dioxide leak left a worker dead and three other injured at Samsung’s chip plant.    Photo source: MBC News Desk (YouTube capture)

 

A gas leak has left one worker dead and two critically injured at Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.’s flagship chip plant—an event reminiscent of a fatal gas leak that hit another Samsung plant five years ago.

On Sept. 4 afternoon, three workers passed out in a basement unit of Samsung’s Giheung plant in Gyonggi province, poisoned by carbon dioxide as they carried firefighting cylinders containing the gas.  Hours later, the youngest one, aged 24, was pronounced dead at the hospital.  The others, 26 and 54 years old respectively, are in critical condition.

Also, Samsung’s own paramedic was hospitalized after getting injured while treating the victims, said Kyeongin Ilbo, a local daily, in an exclusive report.  Samsung did not disclose the paramedic’s hospitalization in earlier press releases or did not report to authorities, the newspaper said on Sept 6.

“The first responder was injured while treating the victims,” Kyeongin quoted a Samsung spokesman as saying. “He will be discharged today, depending on test results on his carbon dioxide exposure.”

As of this posting, the four men’s identities are not released.

History of Leaks

In many ways, the carbon dioxide leak is a rerun of another fatal leak from January 2013. At Samsung’s Hwaseong plant, also in Gyonggi, two expired gaskets of a 500-liter tank leaked twice, spewing a total of ten liters of diluted hydrofluoric acid gas, an impurity remover that can instantly and permanently damage pulmonary organs and corneas.  The leaks killed one workers and injured four others.

Despite the fatality and Samsung’s attempts at covering up, the South Korean government brought criminal charges against four executives and employees of STI, the Samsung contractor responsible for facility maintenance and safety. Only three mid-level Samsung managers were charged.

Pattern of Leaks

The world’s largest tech conglomerate may well attempt again to shirk responsibility and dodge criminal charges.

The victims of the carbon dioxide leak were employees of Samsung’s contractor, a fact which revealed that Samsung still outsources such major first-response jobs as fire prevention and safety.

In 2013, the company used a first-response outsourcer to patch up the leaks and transported the victims to hospital.  The tech conglomerate did not immediately report them to authorities, leading to horrified elementary schools in its vicinity postponing the new semester.  Despite public outcries, the province government did not conduct an epidemiological probe of the area.

Outsourced First Response

The corporate giant’s outsourcing of first response often proved fatal.  In May 2017, six workers were killed and more than twenty were injured when a mobile crane crashed into and felled a fixed crane at the shipyard of Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd in Geoje, Korea.

Samsung bungled first-response efforts, according to an expose by independent news site The Voice of the People.  The company did not bring in government paramedics during the first hour of the accident, during which its own first responders failed to stop the hemorrhaging of a victim who eventually died.

Technicality

This time, at least, Samsung used its own first-responders to rescue the victims.

However, the Samsung plant reported the leak to its police and fire precincts after the death of the worker, or about two hours after the accident, sidelining the province’s emergency management system.

“We attempted to contact Samsung for a number of times after learning about the leak,” independent daily Hankyoreh quoted an unnamed EMS official as saying.  “We received a report from the company about two hours after the leak.”

“This is a clear violation of the Firefighting Basic Law,” the anonymous source added.

“It did not constitute a gave situation [necessitating us contacting the EMS] until there was a fatality,” a Samsung spokesperson told Yonhap News.

Probes

Gyonggi province will launch a special probe into the Samsung plant to determine whether Samsung violated the law when it did not immediately report the leak, Governor Jae-myung, who took office three months ago, said in a Facebook posting.  Separately, he sent an EMS taskforce to the plant to prevent any fallout from the leak.

 

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