MEMC Plant Gas Leak
Gas Leak at MEMC Manufacturing Plant Hospitalizes 15
PASADENA, TX – A gas leak Thursday afternoon at a manufacturing plant in Pasadena sent 15 employees to the hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Just after 4 PM on April 24, 2008, a leak developed in the hose of a transport vehicle connected to the MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. facility near Houston, releasing silicon tetrafluoride (STF) into the air.
According to MEMC’s senior vice president of manufacturing, Sean Hunkler, the leak was contained by emergency personnel responding to the scene. Hunkler downplayed the potential impact of the STF leak, saying that surrounding areas would not be affected. He said, however, that the MEMC plant was being temporarily shut down for inspection and evaluation.
The MEMC plant specializes in the manufacture of silicon wafers. STF is a raw, volatile chemical used during the manufacturing process. According to its chemical data sheet, silicon tetrafluoride is a colorless, non-flammable gas with a strong, pungent odor. It is considered a highly corrosive gas; exposure to or inhalation of STF can cause life-threatening injuries, as well as burns, frostbite, and even death.
The condition of the 15 hospitalized employees is not yet known.
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