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NatSemi attacks WSJ cancer claims

Lifestyle and genetics to blame for ill workers

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National Semiconductor has hit back the Wall Street Journal, following a "one-sided" article in Monday's edition, in which the company was accused of exposing workers at its Greenock, Scotland plant to hazardous working conditions. In the WSJ article, former NatSemi workers complained of chemical leaks at the plant, and exposure to carcinogenic materials, which had led to a cluster of miscarriages and uterine cancers. Complaining that the WSJ ignored "critical facts" and was misleading, NatSemi boasted of "superior health and safety controls and an excellect record". It notes a string of awards from the British Safety Council. Only 75 former employees had made allegations against the company, compared with a total payroll -past and present - at the plant of 5,000 staff, Natsemi said in a statement. It is not clear if this figure includes former employees who have died from uterine-related cancers. In a heavily spin-doctored passage, NatSemi acknowledged that the "claims and allegations made by those cited in the Journal story are the most troublesome. Clearly, these individuals are looking for answers, but it is false to say that National is the cause of their ailments. Many factors must be considered when looking at this issue, including genetics as well as lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption". The Scots have a reputation for being the least healthy people in Western Europe. They eat more cake and fewer vegetables than anywhere else in Europe. And this translates into a world record performance for heart attacks. But uterine cancer? NatSemi has its work cut out before it can make the lifestyle argument stick. NatSemi is turning to epidemiology to ward off expensive lawsuits. It says it is willing "participate in an industry-wide health study" examining genetics and lifestyle factors. The future of NatSemi's Greenock plant is up in the air, following the company's decision to scrap its 4-inch wafer facility at the cost of 600 jobs. Senior executives are interested in conducting an MBO for the 6-inch wafer facility, safeguarding a further 440 jobs, according to the Financial Times. NatSemi says it will close the second facility, unless a buyer can be found. But it is willing to sweeten any deal by guaranteeing orders and support worth $30 million a year for the next three years. ® Workers make cancer claims in NatSemi job cuts factory Click for more stories

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