[THE INVESTOR] An expert committee convened by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has put off its decision on whether environmental assessment reports on Samsung Electronics’ factories do indeed include industrial secrets that need to be protected from rivals.
The panel members, including researchers and academicians, met on April 16 to review details of the reports, but failed to reach a consensus.
Related: Biz group says disclosure of Samsung's workplace environment should be limited
“The committee will meet again as soon as possible to examine the reports in-depth,” said an official from the ministry. It has to reach a decision before April 20, when the deadline set by the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
In February, the Daejeon High Court ordered Samsung Electronics to release the reports that include information on critical manufacturing lines located in Pyeongtaek, Giheung and Hwaseong.
Former Samsung workers, who claim to have contracted diseases, such as leukemia and cancer, after working at the chip and display production lines, along with civic activists have long pressured the tech behemoth to reveal the related information.
Siding with the former Samsung workers, the Labor Ministry ordered Samsung to publicize the reports.
The administrative order has been temporarily halted since Samsung filed a lawsuit at the Suwon District Court on March 30, and an appeal at the Central Administrative Appeals Commission on April 2.
Samsung last month also requested the Trade Ministry to intervene, saying that it should decide if the reports contain crucial technological information that should not be leaked. Although the Trade Ministry’s decision will not directly affect the disclosure order, it can be later utilized in courts.
Samsung Display has also asked the Trade Ministry to review its assessment reports, which too have been ordered to be released.
Electronics part manufacturers are required to submit environmental assessment reports that encompass a wide range of information, including chemicals used at factories, manufacturing procedures, and layouts of plants, on a regular basis to the Labor Ministry.
The government can decide whether to make such reports public after deliberations with independent experts.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)