Incident at TSMC’s Semiconductor Plant in Arizona Injures One

Business|Incident at TSMC’s Semiconductor Plant in Arizona Injures One

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/16/business/tsmc-phoenix.html

The reported explosion did not affect construction at the facility, which helped the Taiwanese company secure a $6.6 billion U.S. grant last month.

A large orange Caterpillar earth-moving truck sits in a parking lot.
The TSMC facility in Phoenix in 2022.Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

Meaghan Tobin

The driver of a waste disposal truck was rushed to a hospital on Wednesday following an incident at the Phoenix campus of the Taiwanese chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which is under construction.

Local media reported that an explosion had occurred that, the company said in a statement, did not damage the facility. The truck driver is a contractor, and no TSMC employees or construction workers were injured, the statement said. Fire officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

TSMC makes the majority of the world’s advanced semiconductors. Last month, the Biden administration awarded the company a $6.6 billion grant under the CHIPS and Science Act in a bid to bring cutting-edge chip making to the United States.

TSMC has long dominated the global chip supply chain from its home base in Taiwan. Driven by a chip shortage and China’s increasingly hostile stance toward Taiwan, which Beijing claims is part of its territory, world leaders have spent billions to entice the company to expand to their shores. TSMC over the past four years has committed to build new factories in Japan, Germany and Arizona.

The company says its campus on the northern outskirts of Phoenix will eventually house three factories. Work began in 2021, but stalled as construction unions in Arizona raised safety concerns and objected to TSMC bringing workers from Taiwan to help install sophisticated equipment. The first factory is now expected to begin producing chips in 2025, and the second in 2028. Federal officials have said they expect that TSMC’s planned facility in Arizona will create 6,000 jobs in chip manufacturing and more than 20,000 construction jobs.

Semiconductor manufacturing is complex and involves specialized chemicals and materials. The driver who was injured drove a tank truck containing sulfuric acid.

Arizona has become a top destination for chip-related spending. More than $100 billion in new semiconductor investments have been announced since the CHIPS Act was introduced, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

After TSMC unveiled its plans to build a U.S. hub in 2020, several Taiwanese companies that supply it with chemicals said they would follow suit. Some even bought land. But they have held back while progress on the plant slowed.

Amy Chang Chien contributed research.

Harry Byrne

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