- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2011

YONGIN, SOUTH KOREA (AP) - A study commissioned by Samsung into cancers among six of its semiconductor workers found they were unrelated to exposure to chemicals on the job but the electronics giant is not yet releasing the full results.

U.S.-based Environ International Corp. on Thursday announced the broad findings of a study it conducted over the past year of Samsung chip manufacturing facilities.

Samsung commissioned the investigation last July to try and allay public anxieties after more than 20 semiconductor plant workers were diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma since 1998. At least 10 have died, according to Samsung.

But the South Korean company said it had no plans to immediately publish the study as doing so could compromise the trade secrets of Samsung and its suppliers.

The six cases covered by the study have also been the subject of an ongoing court case in South Korea. Late last month, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled that two of the cases could be related to exposure to toxic chemicals on the job.

Samsung Electronics Co. is the world’s largest manufacturer of memory chips used in personal computers, mobile phones, digital cameras and other products.

Environ said that Samsung’s current manufacturing operations fall “well within accepted standards” for exposure to chemicals and other substances,

Environ officials, including CEO Steve Washburn, appeared at a press conference held at Samsung’s Giheung semiconductor plant in the city of Yongin, south of Seoul.

“The study further concluded that the scientific evidence does not support a link between workplace exposure and the diagnosed cancers in six cases that underwent specific review,” the company said.

Samsung, which has long said its facilities are safe, welcomed the result. Still, Kwon Oh-hyun, the Samsung executive in charge of semiconductors, said the company would not immediately release the Environ study.

“We will consider disclosing the report,” he said, after discussing the issue internally and with suppliers.

That stance disappointed activists supporting plaintiffs in the court case.

Kong Jeong-ok, an occupational health physician and a member of a support group, called for Samsung to act fast.

“First, disclose the full report,” Kong said after the presentation, which she attended. She also urged Samsung to consult with civil groups, experts and the government before doing so to ensure “transparency and reliability.”

Environ said it carried out the study with Samsung’s full cooperation. It also said the study’s design and implementation were reviewed by an independent advisory panel which included academic experts from institutions such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Yale, but that they were not asked to endorse the conclusions.

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