OLED plant explodes, 1 dead, 14 hurt

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OLED plant explodes, 1 dead, 14 hurt

A large explosion broke out at an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) production factory owned by LG Chemical in Heungdeok District in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, killing one and injuring 14, the fire authority said yesterday.

According to LG Chemical, one of two 200-liter (52-gallon) drums containing dioxane, a volatile substance used for manufacturing OLED displays, somehow exploded due to unknown reasons on the second floor of the factory at 10:16 a.m. A 26-year-old worker surnamed Lee was killed.

Fire authorities sent eight fire trucks and 28 fire fighters to the scene immediately. The injured workers were taken to a nearby hospital, but Lee died while being treated. Ten of the remaining 14 survivors, including a worker surnamed Park, 25, had burns all over their body and were transferred to a hospital with a fire burn ward in Daejeon and two of the transferred patients are in a critical condition. Four workers who were slightly injured were discharged.

“The room that kept the drums was a sealed room,” a spokesman for the fire authority said. “We assume that volatile steam generated inside the drum might have leaked.”

Police investigating the case said that poor equipment management and improper maintenance are assumed to be primary causes for the explosion. “We will investigate whether the accident was due to the negligence of workers at the factory,” a spokesman for the police said.

“We don’t have problems producing the OLED, but we decided to stop operation until the investigation is over,” Kim Dong-on, an executive-level official of LG Chemical told reporters during a press briefing held in Cheongju.

By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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