Extreme cold weather and water pollution issues have disrupted flash memory production at Intel's Fab 10 in Leixlip, Ireland. Temperatures at the plant reached as low as -12°C, and a not so bright move by the local council further aggravated the company's problems.
Local authorities ran out of rock salt and decided to use fertiliser to replace the salt component in grit on roads. A spike in ammonia levels was witnessed earlier this month, the levels of chemicals were within safe levels for drinking water, but caused great problems for Intel as chip production requires extremely pure water, without any contamination that may conduct electricity. The company is not equipped to test for ammonia, and water samples had to be sent off-site for analysis.
The company brought tankers of water into the site as a contingency plan.
“Keeping production lines running is of paramount importance,” the company spokesman said.
The cost of the contingency plan has not yet been finalised. “Water levels are trending back down to normal,” the spokesman said.
Charlie Talbot, spokesman for Kildare County Council, said elevated levels of ammonia had been detected by Fingal County Council, which runs the water supply at the Leixlip reservoir, and corrective measures were taken.
He said the council had used urea on only one night, because it had damaged gritting equipment.