Toxic chemicals suit dumped on IBM
Kidney cancer claim
A group from IBM's home turf of Endicott, New York is suing the company over alleged decades of dumping toxic and hazardous contaminants into the environment.
The lawsuit was filed today in Broome County, New York by seven law firms representing over 90 former and current residents of Endicott and the neighboring Town of Union.
In a 43-page filing, the plaintiffs claim IBM's former manufacturing plant released "millions of gallons of various industrial chemicals, including Trichloroethylene ('TCE') Tetrachloroethylene ('PCE'), Trichloroethane ('TCA'), Benzene and Trichlorotrifluoroethane ('Freon 113')."
Between 1924 and 2002, the company "with conscious indifference and disregard to the health and safety of the residents" allowed the industrial chemicals to enter the groundwater. The lawsuit claims the toxins vaporized into the homes and businesses of Endicott and Union causing kidney cancer in adults and congenital heart defects in infants.
The plant produced circuit boards, integrated circuits and other computer components before IBM sold the property in 2002.
A recent report from the state Department of Heath documented higher rates of those health problems in areas affected by the pollution, although a cause for the ailments was not found.
The lawsuit claims IBM is a "sophisticated scientific business entity" that knew or should have known the volatile organic chemicals were toxic to humans and would contaminate the surround area. It says the toxins migrated as vapors into the homes and businesses located above the contaminated groundwater plume.
"As we explained to plaintiffs' lawyers before they filed this case, these suits have no basis in science or law, and IBM will defend itself vigorously," the company said in a statement.
IBM said it has already addressed the health concerns of residents. It has built hundreds of extraction and investigation wells since 1979 to monitor groundwater under the guidance of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The company also made improvements to the existing wastewater treatment center as well as installing ventilation systems in more than 440 properties in the area. IBM said it gave two unconditional grants totaling $2.1m to Endicott and offered an additional $2.2m to eligible homeowners under a program negotiated by the state attorney general's office.
IBM began negotiating with the group of law firms in 2004, which rejected a $3m settlement offer in November. ®
The name of the former CEO of IBM (at least I am assuming you are referring to the man that turned IBM from a caring and responsible corporate citizen into just another big company) is called (Lou) Gerstner.
The Toxic Avenger usually sticks to New Jersey.
re: Trial by media
I may be in the unique position of actually having worked at the endicott site before IBM sold it (in IT) and also read the Reg. While IBM may be able to show on paper that they took all precautions with those chemicals, the truth is they still made it into the ground water for the area. It doesn't matter if it was accidental or because someone wasn't following process. IBM is responsible. No other company in the area used those chemicals. To be fair, while statistically the cancer rates are a little higher, I couldn't say if it is directly related to that or not.
Some have speculated that this is the reason IBM decided to sell the site. It was the birth place of IBM. Some of the buildings are considered to be historical. The site was still turning a profit even though Gershner tried for ten years to close it by constantly cutting it's resources. Personally I thought selling was a big mistake (one of many they have made since that time) and they should have kept ownership of at least the Watson school. For those of you who used to work at other sites, the Watson school was the clock tower building image they used on the badges.
Anyway, it's an even bet that IBM will get out of the suite. They have a lot of money to work with. I also suspect part of this suite was caused by people still being angry IBM left the area.
Tinfoil hats and lawyers
Two things unfortunately in plentiful supply over here.
Put 'em together and prepare to pay yet more to give others their windfall in the "sue the bastards" lottery.
There is a chemical plant on the hill above my house, and I got XYZ illness, what else could it be? Statistical clustering? Pah.