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Intel Chipmaking Plant in Arizona Plant Has Nitrogen Gas Leak

A nitrogen gas leak at Intel Corp.’s chipmaking plant in Chandler, Arizona, yesterday morning sent 11 people to the hospital with skin and eye irritation symptoms, a local official said.

Forty-three people were treated following the discovery of a hazardous material leak, said Tom Dwiggins, a spokesman for the Chandler Fire Department, in a telephone interview. He said the department initially responded to a 911 call from the plant, where it was reported someone was having difficulty breathing.

Intel’s facility in Chandler employs more than 11,000, making it the semiconductor maker’s second-biggest location in the U.S., according to a company factsheet. Intel uses gases, including nitrogen, as part of its dry-etching process.

Dwiggins said all of the injuries were minor and not life-threatening, and those sent to the hospital went for precautionary reasons.

Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said a single manufacturing tool was the source of the leak, and has been shut down. Operations at the facility are continuing and the company will investigate the cause of the leak, he said in an e-mailed statement.

The plant in Chandler is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Phoenix, and is one of three Intel chipmaking facilities in the U.S. The other two are in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Intel is based in Santa Clara, California.

The Arizona Republic reported the leak earlier.

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