SESHA 2003 Symposium - Abstract

Emergency Response Capabilities of Semiconductor Manufacturers in Minnesota and Wisconsin

Lor, Mai
(University of Wisconsin - Stout)


On Friday, September 21, 2001 at 10:18 a.m. a devastating chemical explosion rocked the French town of Toulouse. Two production halls of the AZF fertilizer factory literally flew into the air. Initial reports spoke of 29 dead and 34 with severe injuries. A total of 2,400 were injured and one of the dead was a 1 5-year-old boy (Arens and Thull, 2001). Seventeen years before this catastrophe was the Bhopal gas tragedy, resulting from the methyl isocyanate leak at the Union Carbide Plant. This traumatic episode resulted in a massive number of fatalities and more than 5 million claims for injuries. Both of these experiences demonstrate the vulnerability of populations living in the vicinity of factories using chemicals.

While these disasters are not related to the semiconductor industry, it could be deduced that there is potential for similar types of mishaps to occur. It is a known fact the semiconductor industry works with many potentially volatile chemicals and processes. Raw materials used for deposition are in the form of gases, solids, metals and inorganic compounds. The wafer layers are built under high temperature conditions. These chemicals and high temperatures are ingredients for catastrophic losses.

As manufacturers, the semiconductor industry is vulnerable to such human generated crisis and should have in place comprehensive crisis management plans that emphasize disaster mitigation and recovery. Exposures created as a result of transportation and vehicle crashes, structural fires and collapses, hazardous material releases and explosions, radiation exposure, and terrorism should be properly addressed (Abrahams, 2001).

Even though police, fire departments and health systems are designed to cope with day-to-day issues, and workers and communities are generally able to live with levels of risk managed through day-to-day arrangements, unexpected crises could overwhelm the existing systems and communities. Crisis management programs must be established to include procedures, resources, and personnel aimed at reducing the impact of hazards, emergencies, and disasters on company workers and finances, and communities.

To determine how prepared the semiconductor manufacturers are, the following questions must be answered. How do manufacturers protect their chemicals and plants? What processes are in place to handle crisis, especially chemical explosion? How do manufacturers implement the programs? Although, each manufacturer has its own emergency plan it would be beneficial to study various plans in order to create a list of best practices for managing crises.


The purpose of this project is to evaluate semiconductor manufacturers' crisis management systems and provide recommendations. These recommendations will be based on research and evaluation of existing emergency programs of various manufacturers, noting strengths and weakness. The project will include:

1. Summaries of existing emergency programs for Minnesota and Wisconsin semiconductor manufacturers.

2. Analysis of semiconductor manufacturers' plans

3. Law enforcement recommendations

4. Information on emergency preparedness programs from other industries

5. Compilation of semiconductor industry emergency preparedness recommendations for dealing with all crisis

In order to achieve the goals of this study, the following methods will be used:

1. Determine the elements of crisis management's best practices.

2. Interview semiconductor manufacturers to get their existing crisis management.

3. Review and analysis of plans.

4. Research and interview law enforcement for recommendations.

5. Research crisis management programs from other industries and compare with plans of semiconductors industry.

6. Summarize the above information and provide recommendations.


Abrahams, Jonathan. Disaster management in Australia: The national emergency management system.; Emergency Medicine, Jun2001, Vol. 13 Issue 2, pl65, 9p, 1 chart

Arens, Marianne and Fran,cois Thull 1/sep200 1/toul-s25_prn.shtml

Owsley, Melissa. (October 2002). Semiconductor Risk Control Seminar, Menomonie, WI (Cypress Semiconductor (Minnesota) Inc., Safety and Health Manager)

MN Public Safety web page http://www.dps.

NUSAFE web page -
http :llwww. iaea. or. at/ns/nusafe/tutoriaUnatinf/emerge. htm

[abstract as .pdf]