by JAMES S. KIM
A Samsung worker died earlier this month from leukemia, a labor advocacy group said Tuesday. Family members and activists claim the death was a direct result of lethal chemical exposure at chip-making plants.
Yonhap News reported that compensation talks between similar victims and Samsung had ended just a few days earlier without any significant progress.
Lee Beom-woo, 47, died a month after being hospitalized for leukemia, according to the Protector of Health and Human Rights of Semiconductor Workers (SHARP), an advocacy group representing workers who became ill or died while working at Samsung’s chip-making facilities. Lee had reportedly spent 23 of his 27 years at Samsung working at their Onyang, South Chungcheong Province facility, about 75 miles south of Seoul.
“Samsung’s semiconductor production line in Onyang is a place where hazardous factors linked to leukemia, such as epoxy resin and radiation machines, exist,” reads a SHARP statement, citing a 2012 study by the Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute.
Research by SHARP shows there were 40 cases of environment-related diseases at the Onyang facility, including 12 workers suffering from lymphatic system-related illnesses. The number jumps to 150 cases when taking Samsung’s other facilities into account, according to the organization.
The issue has been receiving plenty of media attention this past year. A Bloomberg Businessweek article told the story of Hwang Yu-mi, a woman who began working in a Samsung facility at the age of 18 and was dead at 22 from leukemia in 2007. The article, which also detailed her father’s ongoing struggle and the larger movement to expose the dangerous use of carcinogens, coincided with the Galaxy S5 smartphone launch.
Samsung publicly apologized for the first time in May for the deaths and suffering of its workers, promising compensation and further negotiations. However, after the last meeting on July 30, Samsung and SHARP remain at an impasse. The company reportedly has yet to agree to a third-party inspection of its facilities.
Image via Engadget