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8 January 2009


TriQuint fab evacuated after HazMat incident during annual re-start  

RF front-end product manufacturer and foundry services provider TriQuint Semiconductor Inc says that this Monday (on 5 January) it experienced an incident during the planned annual shutdown for maintenance at its GaAs wafer fabrication plant in Hillsboro, OR, USA.

A small team was preparing for factory restart and repouring process solutions when an employee (with experience of the process) recognized incorrect mixing of the chemicals (15 gallons of gold plating solution containing 2% cyanide and 6 gallons of tin plating solution containing 5% sulfuric acid), with the consequent reaction producing a foam bubble in the solution.

Staff were hence evacuated from the plant’s cleanroom (with no injuries from the incident), and the supervisor notified the local fire department (Hillsboro Fire and Rescue). Subsequently, the county Hazardous Materials (HazMat) response team from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue (TVF&R) were called on-site to aid in case a hazardous materials situation developed.

TriQuint stresses that no plume or gas cloud occurred. The firm's HazMat clean-up contractor Clean Harbors of Clackamas disposed of the 21 gallons of chemical solution, and any residuals were cycled by the equipment’s ventilation system (trapping any exhaust into water, which is then captured in a container and disposed of offsite).

The county HazMat team observed TriQuint’s processes, videotaped the incident, and complimented the firm on how the situation was handled. On the HazMat team’s recommendation, TriQuint reported the incident to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). It was subsequently deemed that there was no environmental impact from the incident.

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