Monday, January 31st 2022

Toxic Spillage at Samsung Austin Leaves "Virtually no Surviving Aquatic Life"

Electronic waste isn't the only environmental concern when it comes to technological manufacturing; toxic byproducts also have to be contended with, with tech companies spending millions of dollars to comply with environmental disposal regulations. Sometimes, however, things don't go as they're supposed to. Such was the case with a toxic spillage from Samsung's Austin, Texas manufacturing facility, which spilled the equivalent of 763,000 gallons of acid waste towards a nearby stormwater pond. This same pond ultimately feeds into a tributary of the Harris Branch Creek in Northeast Austin.

The spillage is estimated to have occurred over 100+ days, and the consequences are severe. According to a report published by an Environmental Officer working for Austin City Council, the spillage left "virtually no surviving aquatic life" due to it lowering the water body's pH down to levels between 2 and 3 (which is deadly toxic even for adult aquatic life). According to Samsung, it stopped the discharges as soon as they were noticed, saying that "a majority of the wastewater was contained on-site; however, a portion was inadvertently released into an unnamed small tributary that is upstream of Harris Branch Creek." The company further stated it has hired a cleanup specialist, with aims to "restore the tributary" and prevent dissemination of the toxic waste throughout the main branch of the Harris Branch Creek.
State-appointed investigators have in the meantime confirmed that the toxic discharge has ceased, and measured recovering pH levels between January 14th and January 19th, which so far seem to have normalized at the expected pH 6.7 and 8.5 interval. The damage to aquatic life is done, however, and recovery efforts will still have to be monitored.
Source: Tom's Hardware
Add your own comment

78 Comments on Toxic Spillage at Samsung Austin Leaves "Virtually no Surviving Aquatic Life"

#1
AusWolf
Someone must be held responsible for this.
Posted on Reply
#2
ExcuseMeWtf
Oh fantastic. Even ignoring obvious environmental impact, even if they get fined appropriately, they'd prob just end up passing the fine down on consumers in higher prices.
Posted on Reply
#3
GerKNG
i bet they will increase prices across the board to compensate the cost of their oopsie...
Posted on Reply
#4
nguyen
paying a fine is probably cheaper than processing all those toxic waste, so "mistake" happen?
Posted on Reply
#5
pavle
nguyenpaying a fine is probably cheaper than processing all those toxic waste, so "mistake" happen?
Indeed and "The spillage is estimated to have occurred over 100+ days..." report doesn't sound like there's much corporate responsibility going on there - I mean 100 days? That's more than one quarter of the year of spilling! :wtf:
Posted on Reply
#6
InVasMani
I bet they would've noticed a lot sooner if it was their bank accounts spilling monies over 100+ days..
Posted on Reply
#7
Bomby569
How do they not test the waste water in a container or artificial lagoon before releasing it into the nature? This is completely absurd. As it is explained this would be impossible in most European countries, either something would have gone terrible wrong or was intentional.
The US has very weak environmental laws.
Posted on Reply
#8
Chomiq
Slap on the wrist and back to business as usual.
Posted on Reply
#9
ThaiTaffy
I test the water in our taps and even the quality of the air before I open a window with a few simple sensors linked to my smart home server. Yet a multi billion dollar business has been poisoning the planet massively for 3 months unnoticed...... Sorry I don't believe the excuse they didn't know.
Posted on Reply
#10
Chomiq
ThaiTaffyI test the water in our taps and even the quality of the air before I open a window with a few simple sensors linked to my smart home server. Yet a multi billion dollar business has been poisoning the planet massively for 3 months unnoticed...... Sorry I don't believe the excuse they didn't know.
Yeah 760k+ gallons of acid don't just magically evaporate from storage tanks.
Posted on Reply
#11
ThaiTaffy
ChomiqYeah 760k+ gallons of acid don't just magically evaporate from storage tanks.
Lawyers probably told them to dump it as the fine is less than processing it
Posted on Reply
#12
AusWolf
ThaiTaffyI test the water in our taps and even the quality of the air before I open a window with a few simple sensors linked to my smart home server. Yet a multi billion dollar business has been poisoning the planet massively for 3 months unnoticed...... Sorry I don't believe the excuse they didn't know.
They probably concluded that proper testing would have been more costly than playing the "oops, we didn't know" game. But don't we actually have environmental laws? I'm sure killing wildlife is a criminal activity.
Posted on Reply
#13
TheLostSwede
Bomby569How do they not test the waste water in a container or artificial lagoon before releasing it into the nature? This is completely absurd. As it is explained this would be impossible in most European countries, either something would have gone terrible wrong or was intentional.
The US has very weak environmental laws.
Sadly it's not at all impossible in Europe, happens more often than it should.
One of the air force bases in Sweden leaked jet fuel for what must've been years, but it was discovered in 2017.
Initially they thought it was 368 cubic metres, but by now they've pumped up three times that out of the ground.
All that was claimed to have leaked through five tiny, underground holes. The sanitation is still ongoing and as it's the air force, they got slapped with a US$5.3k fine, not because of the leakage, but because they didn't report that they started the sanitation project.
So yeah, these kind of things happen all over the place.
Posted on Reply
#14
CallandorWoT
Let's hope Texas taxpayers pay to fix all of this mess, but I doubt it, they will probably ask for the Federal taxpayer system to pay for it. ;)

Texas loves to be free and give companies tax breaks with no penalties involved in messes like this, cause they know the pushovers at the top will just get all 50 states to chip in to cover the bill.

Ah, ignorance is bliss
Posted on Reply
#15
Bomby569
TheLostSwedeSadly it's not at all impossible in Europe, happens more often than it should.
One of the air force bases in Sweden leaked jet fuel. Initially they thought it was 368 cubic metres, but by now they've pumped up three times that out of the ground.
All that was claimed to have leaked through five tiny, underground holes. The sanitation is still ongoing and as it's the air force, they got slapped with a US$5.3k fine, not because of the leakage, but because they didn't report that they started the sanitation project.
So yeah, these kind of things happen all over the place.
that's an accident like i said, this was a "discharge", at least that's what is in the linked report
Posted on Reply
#16
TheLostSwede
Bomby569that's an accident like i said, this was a "discharge", at least that's what is in the linked report
Not sure it was an accident, since no-one noticed for what seems to have been years.
I mean, how do you not notice that you're short 1,000 cubic metres of jet fuel?

So I guess this is in the same boat, they didn't notice, because they weren't paying attention.
Posted on Reply
#17
CallandorWoT
TheLostSwedeNot sure it was an accident, since no-one noticed for what seems to have been years.
I mean, how do you not notice that you're short 1,000 cubic metres of jet fuel?

So I guess this is in the same boat, they didn't notice, because they weren't paying attention.
This is where France wins the day imo, France does not get enough credit for how advanced their monitoring systems are in almost every field whether it be nuclear, their water systems, etc. I watched a documentary on it. Round the clock of monitoring of the finest details, especially on the public water supply... I found that really interesting, not to mention they were 10x more advanced in how they purified the water than the USA.

As much as I disliked France when I visited, they don't get enough credit, I am not sure I would say this kind of thing happens all over. Sweden is by all measures much more of a right wing country, as is Texas. I have yet to see an example from a far left country of this magnitude of negligence.

Not trying to bring politics in this, just stating how I see it before me.
Posted on Reply
#18
ThaiTaffy
AusWolfThey probably concluded that proper testing would have been more costly than playing the "oops, we didn't know" game. But don't we actually have environmental laws? I'm sure killing wildlife is a criminal activity.
Surely the fact some no name Welshman in the middle of nowhere with a simple opensource waspmote gateway and a few sensors (pH,chlorine, conductivity, particulate) can measure the water quality of his borehole pump, I would imagine Samsung could bodge something together.

By the way hydrochloric acid has a pH of 2 so they literally made rivers of acid the wording of the news article was pretty soft I think.
Posted on Reply
#19
Bomby569
TheLostSwedeNot sure it was an accident, since no-one noticed for what seems to have been years.
I mean, how do you not notice that you're short 1,000 cubic metres of jet fuel?

So I guess this is in the same boat, they didn't notice, because they weren't paying attention.
i don't think i made myself clear.
At least i think in English discharge mean they did it (i just looked in the dictionary and it says its an action, someone choose to do it). What im saying is they should have tested it before doing it. It could easily been avoided and detected. They would have noticed the release of waste was toxic not just treated water.

That case in Sweden was a leak, it can happen, it's an accident, it can happen in our home pipes. There was no intentional discharge.
Posted on Reply
#20
Solaris17
Dainty Moderator
wild how they just somehow managed to setup shop next to a creek.
Posted on Reply
#21
ThaiTaffy
I once worked on a job in Wales where a 1000litres of kerosine leaked into the ground under someone's house, they were forced to demolish half the house and dig up the contaminated ground. Just the clean up alone not including rebuilding the house was £300,000.
Posted on Reply
#22
CallandorWoT
ThaiTaffyI once worked on a job in Wales where a 1000litres of kerosine leaked into the ground under someone's house, they were forced to demolish half the house and dig up the contaminated ground. Just the clean up alone not including rebuilding the house was £300,000.
I am really surprised these companies don't have more sensors and measurements taking place in real time 24/7. I feel like a lot of these things would be easy to spot early on based on simple math and a few sensors.
Posted on Reply
#23
TheinsanegamerN
Bomby569How do they not test the waste water in a container or artificial lagoon before releasing it into the nature? This is completely absurd. As it is explained this would be impossible in most European countries, either something would have gone terrible wrong or was intentional.
Ah yes, because toxic spillage NEVER happens in the EU, thanks to beuracrats! As we all know, toxic waste is one of the most stringent law abiding entities in existence!
Bomby569The US has very weak environmental laws.
You do realise the reason so much chip manufacturing left the US was over enviromental compliance, right? In china you never would have heard about this happening, just another day.
Posted on Reply
#24
CallandorWoT
TheinsanegamerNAh yes, because toxic spillage NEVER happens in the EU, thanks to beuracrats! As we all know, toxic waste is one of the most stringent law abiding entities in existence!

You do realise the reason so much chip manufacturing left the US was over enviromental compliance, right? In china you never would have heard about this happening, just another day.
So are you saying it is not worth the effort to try to live in a better world? We might as well just go back to the acid rain days then... ah how quickly people like you forget history...
Posted on Reply
#25
ThaiTaffy
TheinsanegamerNAh yes, because toxic spillage NEVER happens in the EU, thanks to beuracrats! As we all know, toxic waste is one of the most stringent law abiding entities in existence!

You do realise the reason so much chip manufacturing left the US was over enviromental compliance, right? In china you never would have heard about this happening, just another day.
I live downstream of China on the river Mekong they dump alot of rubbish but it still has fish.
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment
Jun 25th, 2022 22:43 EDT change timezone

New Forum Posts

Popular Reviews

Controversial News Posts