Samsung under scrutiny after radiation exposure at chip plant


South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission has opened an official investigation after two employees at a Samsung semiconductor facility in Giheung were exposed to radiation.

In a statement, the Commission said it is probing the incident that occurred on May 27 and has suspended the use of the equipment in question.

The investigation aims to identify the cause of the exposure and assess any potential safety protocol breaches.

The two affected individuals exhibit symptoms typical of localized radiation exposure, but preliminary blood tests have shown no chromosomal abnormalities, the Commission added.

The Commission will assess the exact radiation levels at the Giheung facility as part of its response. Should any safety law violations be discovered, administrative measures will be implemented.

Impact on operations and supply chain

An incident like this can lead to an immediate production halt for safety checks and investigations, slowing down or stopping processes involving X-rays, according to Manish Rawat, semiconductor analyst at Techinsights.

“This could delay existing order deliveries, impacting Samsung’s ability to meet semiconductor chip deadlines,” Rawat said. “To mitigate this, Samsung may redistribute production tasks to other facilities, potentially overloading them and affecting efficiency and output. Furthermore, additional safety inspections and enhanced protocols could create bottlenecks, further disrupting production.”

Such a potential disruption in Samsung’s semiconductor production could lead to multifaceted challenges.

“Firstly, suppliers dependent on Samsung’s consistent output may face hurdles in maintaining their own schedules, potentially straining supplier relationships,” Rawat said. “Secondly, customers in sectors heavily reliant on timely semiconductor chip deliveries, such as automotive, consumer electronics, and telecommunications, risk production delays. This may result in dissatisfaction among customers, jeopardizing long-term business relationships and trust.”

Potential for more scrutiny

The incident further highlights the inherent risks associated with semiconductor manufacturing and could raise concerns among suppliers and customers regarding Samsung’s risk management capabilities.

The potential impact on production also prompts questions about the robustness of safety measures and contingency planning within the industry, according to Rawat.  

“Overall, the disruption in Samsung’s production chain not only affects its immediate stakeholders but also highlights broader issues regarding supply chain resilience and the management of reputational risks in the semiconductor industry,” Rawat said.

This could prompt more scrutiny and demands for transparency from business partners. Several measures may be proposed to mitigate future supply chain risks, encompassing key areas.

“Firstly, worker safety enhancements include regular safety audits to identify and mitigate risks, comprehensive training programs on safety protocols, and advanced monitoring systems for real-time hazard detection,” Rawat said. “Secondly, ensuring regulatory compliance involves strengthening compliance programs to meet local and international safety standards. Transparent reporting of incidents to regulatory bodies demonstrates a commitment to safety and compliance.”

Located south of Seoul, the Giheung fab, established in 1983, specializes in manufacturing mainstream nodes ranging from 350nm to 8nm, according to Samsung’s website. Besides Giheung, the company operates two other manufacturing plants in South Korea — the Hwaseong fab, which handles production processes from 10nm to 3nm, and the Pyeongtaek fab, which focuses on more advanced nodes.

Previous Story

Buyer’s guide: How to buy PCs for your enterprise

Next Story

Microsoft reportedly unhappy about Apple’s OpenAI iPhone