January 18, 2002 -- NH Techno Glass has shut down its five LCD glass furnaces in Yokkaichi following two incidents of an accidental release of arsenious acid. It says seven workers showed arsenic exposure in urine tests, but results of blood work were within normal limits, and none appear to have suffered any serious effects and all are at home. None of the 68 townspeople tested showed exposure.
The company is not saying when it will start up production again, but press reports speculate it won?t be until March, taking the equivalent of some 400,000 550x650mm substrates a month out of the market. NH Techno can supply some customer needs from its new Singapore plant, which has capacity to make 100,000 units a month. It claims 10%-15% of the LCD glass market.
NH Techno says a blocked duct in its furnace No. 5 caused some dust containing arsenious acid to escape from its plant on Dec. 19. Then while closing down the other four furnaces for year-end maintenance and repairs, a breakdown in the dust collection system caused the second accidental release. The company is now redoing the entire exhaust system to prevent further accidents. It also plans to stop using arsenious acid, initially aiming to cut use in half by October.