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Working at Samsung factory caused woman's cancer

Lee Eun-joo was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died a decade afterwards.

Image: Shutterstock/Zeynep Demir

A COURT SAID yesterday that exposure to carcinogens at a Samsung chip factory caused a worker’s ovarian cancer, in the first ruling in South Korea to link the disease with chemicals that chip workers were exposed to.

The Seoul Administrative Court said it saw a “significant causal relationship” between the disease and even a low level of toxic chemicals because the worker Lee Eun-joo was exposed to carcinogens over a long period.

Lee died in 2012 after battling ovarian cancer for more than a decade. She worked at a Samsung chip factory for six years since 1993 when she was 17.

Exposed to hazards

The court cited a 2012 inspection of a Samsung chip factory initiated by South Korea’s labour ministry, which found a low level of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and phenol, a known promoter of tumours.

Lee was exposed to the hazards in glues during a wire bonding process.

The court also blamed many night shifts and the factory’s ventilation system. It ordered a government agency to compensate her family.

The court also said the agency should be less stringent in deciding eligibility for compensation when the cause of the disease is not completely clear cut.

In South Korea, a government agency levies companies and oversees insurance for workers with occupational diseases.

Banolim, an advocacy group, says it has details of more than 200 current or former Samsung workers suffering from grave diseases such as leukaemia. Of them, 76 have died. Less than a dozen cases had a causal relationship recognised by courts or the government.

Samsung recently agreed on preventive measures but remains deadlocked over other issues after many workers opposed the company’s compensation plan announced last year.

Read: ‘This is what we die for’: children put in danger for smartphones>

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Associated Press

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