Incident Recovery Some Old Lessons Re-Learned During the 1999 Taiwan Earthquake

Early on Tuesday morning, 21 September 1999, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit Taiwan. The epicenter was near the middle of this island nation and not far from the heart of the fourth largest semiconductor-manufacturing region in the world. Although there was much loss of life and heavy property damage throughout Taiwan, major structural damage to the semiconductor fabs in and around Hsin-Chu was fortunately relatively minor. However, in the days following this significant event, business interruption delays rapidly became a major issue for the owners and operators of these fabs. Failure of the support infrastructure (e.g. primary electric and fuel supply, roadways, etc.) magnified the significance of even the most minor damage. Burt water pipes, small fires, ruptured water tanks, and even the displacement of equipment had to wait for permanent solutions until basic services were once again restored. The cost of business interruption was initially estimated at US $70 to US$100 million per day for the Hsin-Chu Science Park alone. This paper reviews the recovery issues that Taiwan-based semiconductor manufacturers encountered as a result of this very large earthquake. These issues include types of non-structural damage, recovery obstacles, important lessons learned, and recommendations for the future. This paper was originally published in the proceedings of SSA 2000.



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