Samsung acid waste spill kills aquatic life in Austin’s tributary
As a reminder of how toxic chipmaking is, Samsung managed to kill virtually all aquatic life in an Austin tributary after dumping 763,000 gallons of sulfuric acid waste into a stormwater pond.
As CBS Austin reports, the spill occurred at Samsung Austin Semiconductor facilities over a period of 106 days. The stormwater pond fed an unnamed nearby tributary to Harris Branch Creek in northeast Austin. The spill was discovered and stopped by Samsung on January 14, and the company has now retained the services of an environmental engineering firm to help minimize the impact.
The Watershed Protection Department (WPD) has confirmed that there is “virtually no surviving aquatic life throughout the tributary from the Samsung property to the main branch of Harris Branch Creek near Harris Branch Parkway”. This is not surprising when it is discovered that the tributary had a pH level between three and four.
In a memorandum sent to the mayor and council of Austin, the WPD says an investigation into the impacts of the spill is ongoing and that all documents will be shared with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ). Fortunately, the pH level had returned to near normal levels (6.7 to 8.5) by January 19 and the main branch of Harris Branch Creek remains unchanged.
Recommended by our editors
Samsung has decommissioned the stormwater pond and is proceeding with a remediation process. The WPD will inspect the integrity of the pond after the process is complete and conduct weekly tributary surveys to monitor water quality. After that, Samsung will need to ensure that such a spill does not happen again and contribute to the process of returning aquatic life to the tributary as quickly as possible.
Receive our best stories!
Register for What’s up now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.