Santa Clara, CA

National`s response

National Semiconductor blasted the Wall Street Journal for running an Oct. 5 front-page article that questioned worker safety at its fab in Greenock, Scotland. National said the article “ignores crucial facts and is misleading,” and said “there is no scientific evidence linking the semiconductor manufacturing environment and cancer.” The article features interviews with a number of former and current workers. It notes a dearth of studies on wafer fab health issues, and quotes an EPA official as saying that a lack of semiconductor industry cooperation has caused a large-scale study to be shelved. (See related story, page 6.) Separately, National said it is planning to consolidate the Greenock wafer operations and spin out the remaining portion of operations there as an independent foundry operation. — CL

Austin, TX

One more thing to worry about

Laptop computers are one of the healthier end-user markets these days. But flat-panel display market researcher Ross Young, head of DisplaySearch, Austin, TX, is suggesting that the year 2000 could bring a situation in which laptop sales are constrained by availability of advanced active-matrix displays. With demand growing at 38 percent CAGR and supply at 22 percent in the same 1998-2000 period, some 2.46 million laptop units might not be sold for lack of displays (unless computer makers shift to the use of less-desirable STN displays). Young says this year`s capital spending on FPD facilities will drop by 34 percent due to excess capacity and soft prices on displays; he expects a spending surge of 32 percent next year, but tight capital in Japan and South Korea will prevent it from meeting year 2000 demand. Capital spending in 2000 is seen kicking up again, with the shortage lifting in 2001. — CL

Norwood, MA

One big, happy family

The three parent insurance companies of property loss firm Factory Mutual (a player in wafer fab safety issues) have decided to merge operations, pending policyholder and regulatory approvals. Under the deal, major chipmaking insurer Allendale Mutual Insurance Company along with Arkwright Mutual Insurance Company and Protection Mutual Insurance Company, will become Factory Mutual Insurance Company in January, 1999. — CL


Enviroflex relocates New York office

Enviroflex has moved its East Coast office to Katonah, NY. The relocation positions the company in proximity to several area projects. Engineering Director John Potter will supervise office operations. — TGW


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