Report: No Samsung plant cancer link found

July 14, 2011 at 12:15 PM

SEOUL, July 14 (UPI) -- A company-commissioned study found no links between Samsung Electronics' chip plants and cancer, the South Korean electronics giant said Thursday.

However, labor advocates and investors both ripped the report, challenging the study's transparency and independence, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The study by a Chicago-based environmental consulting firm came after a court ruled in June that Samsung responsible for two workers' deaths and ordered a state agency to pay compensation to the surviving family members.

Environ International Corp. studied the cases of six people who developed leukemia and other blood-related diseases while they worked at the electronics maker's chip factories in Seoul. The six employees are suing the state welfare agency for denying their requests for compensation last year.

"We did not find any link between exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and the health conditions of six employees," Fred Boelter, a principal at Environ, said during a news conference at Samsung's Giheung plant in Yongin, a Seoul suburb.

Samsung hired Environ to conduct a one-year study of health and safety conditions on its three semiconductor lines after a rash of deaths and illnesses among young semiconductor workers, Yonhap reported. Samsung said 26 current and former employees were diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma and 10 of them died, while others said at least 36 Samsung employees developed cancer and 15 died.

Samsung and Environ refused to disclose the data and the full report, citing confidentiality.

"If you are saying that your work is based on a scientific process, it should be opened to the public," Paek Domyung, dean of the graduate school of public health at Seoul National University, said. "There is no data here, just your conclusions."

Netherlands-based pension fund APG also expressed concern about the company's handling of the issue.

"What the company calls an independent third-party investigation is in fact neither independent nor transparent," APG said in a newsletter. "The environmental consultant was hired and is being paid for by Samsung."

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