Siilcon Shame is a month-long web series published in January, 2002, by
El Andar. Articles and information can also be found in El Andar magazine's
Fall/Winter 2001 issues.
In the "Valley of the Heart's Delight,"
things have gone awry. Toxic spills, contaminated neighborhoods and dangerous
chemicals aren't words we usually hear when there's talk of Silicon Valley.
But the industry with the immaculate image, for years proclaimed as the
antithesis to East Coast factories churning out thick clouds of smog,
isn't as clean as some of its advocates would have us believe. On average,
the production of every eight-inch wafer that goes into making microchips
uses twenty-seven pounds of chemicals and creates nine pounds of hazardous
waste. Workers, mostly women and minorities, are getting sick and pointing
to the clean rooms, the birth place of the chip, as the source of their
That's just one of the many health and environmental issues plaguing Latinos
and the working class in Silicon Valley. Following paper trails and toxic
fumes, the reporters for this series have documented how:
The semiconductor industry has refused to cooperate with proposed
EPA studies to examine cancer risks in clean rooms.
IBM misled its
workers about the findings of a brain cancer study.
near two chemical plants in the valley live under the threat of accidental
poisoning every day.
have made basic information about the threat of chemical accidents nearly
impossible to obtain.
Half of the Valley's
toxic emissions are released in low-income neighborhoods none
in the highest income areas.
neglected urban lots with unknown levels of contamination
are being used for high-density housing.
January 7, 2002
the Neighbor's Business
by Hillary Cargo
Lobbies, the Terrorist Threat and Your Right to Know
by Julia Reynolds
Clean Room Paradox
by Karina Ioffee
by Catherine T. Worth
Questionable Grounds: The Brownfields Real Estate Boom
by Karina Ioffee
Gonzales lives near Matheson Gas, a high-tech supply company in Newark,
Calif. that has had three chemical accidents in three years. Photo,
Paul Myers, El Andar.
© 2001-2002, El Andar Magazine