samsung finds no link between chip plants cancer
Last Updated : GMT 12:45:25
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Last Updated : GMT 12:45:25
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Company responsible for two workers' deaths

Samsung finds no link between chip plants, cancer

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Emiratesvoice, emirates voice Samsung finds no link between chip plants, cancer

S.Korean activists wearing protective clothing  
Yongin - Yonhap

S.Korean activists wearing protective clothing   Samsung Electronics Co., the world\'s biggest computer memory chip maker, said Thursday a study found no link between its chip plants and cancer, but controversy loomed as labor advocates challenged the study\'s transparency and independence.
The study came on the heels of a court ruling on June 23 that held Samsung responsible for two workers\' deaths and ordered a state-run welfare agency to pay compensation to the surviving family members. The agency said it filed an appeal.
Samsung commissioned the Chicago-based environmental consulting firm Environ International Corp. to study the cases of six workers who developed leukemia and other blood-related diseases over the period of time they worked at the electronics maker\'s chip factories in suburban Seoul.
The six are the same employees who are embroiled in legal battles with Samsung and the welfare agency. They sought compensation from the welfare agency and lodged lawsuits last year when it denied their requests.
\"We did not find any link between exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and the health conditions of six employees,\" Fred Boelter, a principal at Environ, told reporters at Samsung\'s Giheung plant in Yongin, about 40 kilometers south of Seoul.
After a spate of deaths and illnesses among young semiconductor workers, including 23-year-old Park Ji-yeon in March 2010, Samsung hired Environ to conduct a one-year study of health and safety conditions at its three semiconductor lines, hoping to ease mounting public concerns.
Samsung said 26 current and former employees became seriously ill with leukemia and other diseases, while the Supporters of Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARP) found at least 36 Samsung employees who developed cancer. The labor advocate group said 15 of them died.
Samsung has more than 30,000 employees in its semiconductor division, including those who are not working in the production lines.
Samsung and Environ said that their study was \"scientific and objective\" but supporters of the workers who died of cancer and even overseas investors equally questioned the study\'s transparency and independence.
Samsung and Environ refused to disclose the resulting data and the full report, citing confidentiality. They also declined to reveal how much Samsung paid the consulting firm over the year the study was conducted.
\"If you are saying that your work is based on a scientific process, it should be opened to the public,\" Paek Domyung, dean of the graduate school of public health at Seoul National University, told Environ officials. \"There is no data here, just your conclusions.\"
In response to public pressure, Kwon Oh-hyun, president of Samsung\'s semiconductor and display division, said that he would consider making the report public.
The study, which was \"conducted on the day that Samsung picked, with Samsung\'s data and Samsung people, lost its independence,\" said Hwang Sang-gi, father of Hwang Yu-mi, one of the two deceased workers who won in the court\'s ruling.
\"We cannot assess workers\' past exposure to chemicals with what they presented today,\" said Gong Jeong-ok, an occupational health physician who has been following the issue for more than four years.
One of the key points of controversy is whether the carcinogen benzene was present at the workplace. Environ said it did not detect the presence of benzene in its examination, but activists at SHARP said that a previous study in 2009 that Paek led showed the toxin was present.
Netherlands-based pension fund APG, a vocal critic of Samsung\'s management of labor issues, expressed worries over the Korean company\'s handling of the issue.
\"What the company calls an independent third-party investigation is in fact neither independent nor transparent,\" it said in a newsletter published at the end of 2010. \"The environmental consultant was hired and is being paid for by Samsung.\"
Samsung\'s Kwon said the company will introduce a set of new measures to improve health and safety conditions and provide better care for its employees.
 

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