explosion on Tuesday rocked Intel Corp.'s Fab 22, a semiconductor
manufacturing facility located near
The explosion comes just weeks after a tragic explosion at
a Chinese plant owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd. (2317)
subsidiary Foxconn. The Chinese plant was being used to manufacture Apple
Inc.'s (AAPL) iPad 2 at the time, and
has since reopened.
The incident claimed three lives as fires and secondary explosions raged
for some time after the incident.
By contrast the damage at the Intel fab was limited by high tech safety
systems. Seven workers were in the room when the explosion occurred and
six were outside of it. Fire controls kicked in, as designed, limiting the
extent of the damage.
The employees were evacuated for precautionary purposes, but there was no major
damage to the Fab or disruption of production. One worker was taken
to the local Maricopa Medical Center with serious, but non-life
threatening injuries. Two others were transported to local hospitals
immediately after the incident with less serious injuries. And a fourth worker
was hospitalized later in the day.
Workers inside the fab room wore protective face shields, aprons, and gloves.
This stands in contrast to workers at Chinese assembly plants that often
have minimal protection.
The protective measures are important as the fab, like many, deals with toxic
and/or flammable compounds, such as concentrated hydrochloric acid,
sulfuric acid, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonium hydroxide.
Josh Walden, Intel's vice president and general manager for fab sort
manufacturing, released a statement commenting,
"We’re trying to ascertain what happened. All we know is that there was no
damage or release of chemicals to the community."
The room where the explosion occurred was a solvent treatment room. Intel
uses chemical solvents, like the aforementioned chemicals, to carry out parts
of its semiconductor manufacturing process. After use, these compounds
are treated before being shipped to a toxic waste disposal facility. It
is believed that the workers were just starting to treat a batch of solvents
when the explosion occurred.
Firefighters arrived at the building at 2 p.m., with employees being cleared to
return inside by 3:30 p.m.
Intel would not speculate on what the financial costs of the damage would be.
However, based on Mr. Walden's comments, it appears that the damage was
minimal and localized to the solvent treatment room, so this should not be a
major setback for Intel.