Intel Plant Gas Leak Leaves 43 Ill

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 @ 10:07 AM gHale

A faulty manufacturing tool caused a gas leak over the weekend at Intel’s second-largest chipmaking plant that left 43 workers sick and 11 in the hospital.

The faulty manufacturing tool at Intel’s plant in Chandler, AZ, began spitting out toxic nitrogen triflouride gas early Saturday morning on June 30. Dozens of workers at the plant had nausea, difficulty breathing, and skin and eye irritation.

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Nitrogen triflouride is colorless and odorless and sees use in semiconductor plasma etching as a cleaning agent.

Operations at the plant resumed shortly after the malfunction. The 11,000 people working at the Chandler plant make 12-inch silicon wafers that later on end up cut into individual chips. Each component can contain more than a billion transistors.

Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said the tool that caused the leak is offline and operations at the plant resumed as the company tries to determine the cause of the malfunction.

“There is no ongoing danger,” Mulloy said.

Battalion Chief Tom Dwiggins, a fire department spokesman, said there was no threat to nearby neighborhoods.

“They monitored the air inside and outside the structure and in all cases the air was clean,” he said.

Intel operates two high-volume semiconductor manufacturing facilities at the site and is building a third facility, scheduled to open later on this year, according to the company website.

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