What Semiconductor Makers Want
“ One of the biggest hazards for electronics workers is chemicals and the progress on gaining worker protection has been slow. What seems to be key to creating a safer work environment is access to information. Omana George from Electronics Watch shares some shocking stories about manufacturers failing to inform workers of the substances that they are handling.
We also take a specific look at the dangers that are specific to women in the electronics industry. George summarises many of these risks succinctly by quoting the lawyer and advocate, Amanda Hawes – “if you’re pregnant, every day is bring your child to work day.” Workers aren’t just misinformed about dangers to their own health but also the health of their children.”
In this episode, we have Part One of my interview with Ted Smith, Founder and Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.
For more than forty years, Ted has worked to clean up the extensive pollution caused by manufacturers of semi-conductors in Silicon Valley, which contains the most Superfund sites in the country. In the wake of discovery of contaminated drinking water aquifers, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition successfully passed local ordinances on hazardous materials, and public right to know, which became models for state and federal laws, including the Toxics Release Inventory.
We began our conversation discussing the recently enacted federal legislation known as the CHIPs Act, which provides more than $50 billion dollars to promote the on-shoring of semiconductor production to the United States. We discuss the absence of provisions in the law to ensure that new communities aren’t exposed to and harmed by pollution from the new semi-conductor plants in the U.S.
In this episode, we have Part Two of my interview with Ted Smith, Founder and Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.
We begin part two talking about the birth of Silicon Valley, the perception of tech as a “clean” industry, and the reality of workplace health risks. We then talk about the beginnings of the Coalition, spurred by the discovery of toxic solvents leaking into the area’s groundwater from the Fairchild Semiconductor plant, and the early activism of Lorraine Ross, which ultimately led to the designation of 29 Superfund sites in Silicon Valley.
We discuss the role of firefighters, and the plumbers union, along with the Coalition, in developing local laws on the handling of hazardous materials, and public right to know of the storage of hazardous chemicals, which became models for state and federal laws.