Monday, October 20, 2014


This is it, friends.
All administrative remedies have failed.
It's time to block the gates with our bodies.

Don't Worry!about being arrested if you do not want to be!

All persons willing to be arrested will be clearly identified,

and there will be liaisons working with the police.

We need MANY witnesses and other supporters in various roles
who will not get arrested. WE NEED EVERYONE!

Share the official announcement: or Short:

Please share this announcement widely to all who might be interested.
Please consider taking time this coming Fri am to show your love of the Finger Lakes and our well being here..the gas storage projects being developed at Crestwood on Seneca Lake are KEY to the ongoing onslaught of infrastructure development for storage and transport of frack gas in the northeast. Without the ability to store these fossil fuels the industrialization of central NY won't be possible. Not only are pipelines and compressor stations  part of this development, but inevitably  the industries dependent on these hydrocarbons such as plastic manufacturing and fertilizer plants will move in. This is not compatible with agriculture, tourism, wineries and breweries, and will not help the development of renewable energy sources.  A few years ago, 20,000 people showed up for a weekend of protests against fracking in  a rural and agricultural of France, which now has a nationwide ban on this extraction process. 

The WE ARE SENECA LAKE rally and protest
Who: The great people of the Finger Lakes
What: Rally and protest at the gates of the Crestwood compressor station site on Seneca Lake
When: Friday morning, October 24, 2014, rain or shine
Where: Meet at the east end of the Walmart parking lot (back left corner of the lot) in Watkins Glen at 9 am. Shuttle service to the site will be provided.
What to wear: The color blue.
Why: The Texas-based energy corporation, Crestwood Midstream, has approval to move forward with plans to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the west side of Seneca Lake. While the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has temporarily halted plans to stockpile propane and butane (LPG) in the caverns—out of ongoing concerns for safety, health, and the environment—Crestwood is actively constructing infrastructure for the storage of two billion cubic feet of methane (natural gas), with the blessing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
This methane expansion project is advancing in the face of unparalleled public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.
And yet, outrageously, Governor Cuomo’s DEC excised references to the risks of underground gas storage from a 2011 federal report on methane contamination of drinking water and has allowed key data to remain hidden.
On-site construction of the massive underground gas storage depot on the banks of Seneca Lake is scheduled to begin on Friday. Please come and show your opposition. 
Our message:
Seneca Lake is not a gas station for fracking operations. Seneca Lake is our home. Seneca Lake is our water. Seneca Lake brings tourists to our shores and grows wine grapes on our hills. Crestwood, go home! We are Seneca Lake.
To learn more about non-violent civil disobedience, please attend a gathering on Wednesday night, Oct. 22, 6 - 8 pm at the Perry City Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, 6324 Route 227 in Perry City, Town of Hector (directions: Google Maps)
The Pledge to Protect Seneca Lake is here. It is now active and still accepting signers

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dont be silenced by FERC! Comment NOW on Dominion's plan to bring more FRACKED GAS into NY


Photo: BH

This just in from an ad hoc team of folks looking over the Dominion New Market Project. 
This has been produced and vetted by some of the top frack-fighters in the state.

So you may want to consider this ... "important" :)

PS: Remember: Sharing is caring :)

Comment NOW on Dominion's plan to bring more FRACKED GAS into NEW YORK!
Thank you to everyone who attended FERC's terribly-conducted scoping hearing last week on Dominion's "New Market Project." Threatening to bring a billion more cubic feet of fracked gas into New York every day, Dominion Transmission Inc. wants to squeeze more gas into its aging pipeline network by building two massive compressor stations and dramatically expanding a third. These three compressor stations alone would dump 200,000 additional tons of greenhouse gas emissions and cancer-causing air pollutants into the atmosphere every year.
Those who were at the hearing saw first-hand how FERC was totally unprepared for the opposition it received, even admitting that it made a big mistake by scheduling just one hearing in an illegally overcrowded room. But now we need to drive home the message that apologies are not good enough.

We must demand that FERC schedule MORE SCOPING HEARINGS in each of the affected areas, especially where the THREE massive compressor stations are proposed: HORSEHEADS, GEORGETOWN, and BROOKMAN CORNERS. And we must demand that FERC extend the OFFICIAL time period for submitting scoping comments so that communities, organizations, and individuals have fair and adequate opportunity to weigh in on how FERC reviews Dominion's proposed project.

But until we hear otherwise, the official deadline for scoping comments is still October 20th, which means that your help is needed right now! Here's how to comment:


Submitting comments electronically is actually the best way, but it's a bit tricky.
It involves using the "eComment" feature on FERC's website , begin the process by clicking the orange and white "eComment" tab in the middle of the page. (To send attachments, you have to use the "eFiling" feature and first create an account using the "eRegister" feature.)

You'll receive another email after this one with detailed instruction for how to submit comments to FERC using "eComment". But if you still have trouble commenting online, don't let that stop you! You can still send your comments in by paper mail.

Send written comments to:

Kimberly D. Bose. Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426

All scoping comments must be received by October 20th. So for paper mailing, please post-mark by October 18th.
And be sure to identify the docket number for the Dominion "New Market" Project, which is CP14-497-000.

In addition to objecting to the project, please insist that the following be part of FERC's scope of review.

--- It is outrageous that FERC scheduled only one scoping hearing for a major project that impacts much of New York and 200 miles of pipeline. FERC must schedule additional scoping hearings in affected areas, especially where compressor stations would be built or significant expanded in Horseheads (Chemung County), Georgetown (Madison County), and Brookman Corners (Montgomery County near Otsego County). FERC must also extend the OFFICIAL deadline for scoping comments by at least 90 days so that communities, organizations, and individuals have adequate opportunity to weigh in on how FERC will review Dominion's proposed project.

--- FERC should require a full Environmental Impacts Statement (EIS) instead of letting Dominion pursue an expedited Environmental Assessment (EA). The EIS process would require a much more comprehensive analysis of technical and safety issues relating to carrying an additional 112,000 Dekatherms of gas per day in Dominion's aging pipeline network, as well as a more thorough analysis of all direct, indirect, and cumulative induced impacts. A full EIS should be performed.

--- The increased risk of pipeline failure and catastrophic fire or explosion due to higher pressure and flow rate must be fully analyzed--especially since parts of Dominion's network are up to 50 years old, corrosion, degradation, or other stresses have likely occurred over time, and the original pipe may have been constructed using inferior welding methods. Maximum allowable operating pressure must be disclosed and verified. This danger impacts not only people living near compressor stations, but along the ENTIRE Dominion pipeline corridor.

--- Dominion has named this its "New Market Project" because it wants to create new markets for fracked gas. Therefore, a comprehensive build-out analysis of the negative cumulative impacts resulting from increased use of gas should be performed (including the likelihood of future power plants, CNG/LNG facilities, and other types of gas-infrastructure). A build-out analysis should also be performed of negative environmental, health, and societal impacts of more drilling and fracking enabled by additional pipeline capacity.

--- The Dominion pipeline connects to the Iroquois pipeline, which is planned for reversal so that it will carry gas from the U.S. to Canada. Dominion will therefore be a conduit, in part, for exporting gas out of the United States. FERC must analyze this conflict in determining domestic public need. It is also improper segmentation to consider this project without regard to all of the economic and environmental impacts of exporting natural gas, which the project facilitates.

--- A comprehensive health impact assessment should be performed to evaluate the negative effects, short and long-term, to people living near and at various distances from the proposed compressor stations. Exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOC's), nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, and other hazardous air pollutants from compressor stations can cause cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological damage; birth defects, cancer; leukemia; infertility; burning of lungs, eyes, and throat; muscle pain; mental impairment, headaches, and a host of other acute and chronic illnesses. In particular, VOC's from the Brookman Corners compressor station would be 16 times higher than levels at the other two stations, Nitrogen Oxides would be three times higher, and Carbon Monoxide would be 5 times higher. Dominion MUST propose design alternatives to protect the public from this level of exposure. 

--- With the construction and expansion of two compressor stations in Horseheads and Georgetown, and the massive expansion of another one at Brookman Corners, Dominion would pump over 200,000 TONS of greenhouse gas and hazardous chemicals into the air every year, create noise pollution, impact wildlife, and industrialize pristine rural areas. These environmental, health, and community impacts must be comprehensively studied. Dominion claims that greenhouse gas emissions from the Brookman Corners compressor station alone would be just under the 100,000 TON threshold for a major emitter. This level is suspect and would certainly be exceeded if routine blowdowns and other activities are considered.

--- The public must be granted full access to information, including critical energy infrastructure information (CEII) necessary to assess emissions and safety factors. Local fire-fighters and emergency responders are often volunteers and may not be equipped or trained to respond to catastrophic events such as uncontrolled gas fires, explosion, and widespread exposure of the public to gas and airborn toxic chemicals that could be released during an incident. Response capability and the need for additional training or full-time responders must be thoroughly evaluated.

--- Safety and compliance records of Dominion must be disclosed in the record and considered by FERC.


INSTRUCTIONS for filing eCOMMENTS with FERC on Dominion's "New Market Project"

 (Thank you to Suzy Winkler for preparing these great instructions.)
Again, if you have trouble with any of this, send your comments in by paper mail as explained above.

The following instructions will help you file comments about Dominion's proposed project electronically using the "eComment” feature on FERC's website. First you fill out a brief form on FERC's website. Then FERC will then send you an email with a link allowing you to cut and paste your comment online.

Follow these instructions:

1)  Write a comment on your computer and save it. When it's time to enter your comment on the FERC website (#9 below), you will then be able to copy and paste your comment into the allotted space.

2)  Go to:

3) Click on the orange and white "eComment" button. An authorization page will open.
Fill in your name, address, email address and phone number.

4)  Type in the letters and numbers that you see in the gray box and choose the "Authorize" button.

5)  FERC will send you an email with a link. 
Select the link, which takes you to FERC's website. A form with your name and email will appear.

6) In the box marked "Enter Docket Number," fill in CP14-497 (with no spaces)

7) Click on the "Search" button and wait a moment for a response.
Choose the blue plus sign in the far right column under the “Select" heading and wait a moment for a response.

8)  Ignore the new blue box with additional information that appears on the screen.
Find the box for entering your comment slightly below. The system will allow you to enter up to 6000 characters.

9)  Cut and paste your previously prepared comment (from #1) into the box.

10)  Click on the "Send Comment" button in the lower left corner of the screen.

11)  FERC will send you an email saying that your comment has been received. This is your confirmation.
Please save the email.

12)  In the email there will be a link to view your comment in the "eLibrary"

** If you use the "Safari" browser on your computer, this process may give you trouble. For some computers it does and for others it works fine. If the system isn't responding as described above sImply download the "Firefox" browser from the internet and you will be in good shape to move forward.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

FERC's magical changing website / Madison County Mystery Tour

This just in from the


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
has apparently learned how to create things
out of thin air.... IN THE PAST.

But in typical FERC style... they didn't even get the facts right
in their attempt at revisionism!

This page has a soundtrack :)

Many people reported the notification of the SINGLE FERC scoping
session for the Dominion New Market Project -- spanning 200 miles
and causing 200,000 tons per year of toxic emissions into the
air we breathe-- was not listed on the FERC website. 

Suzy Winkler, from Otsego County, even called FERC and spoke with a representative
who insisted THERE WAS NO HEARING in Madison County that night.

Then, unexpectedly, she suddenly (the woman on the phone) admitted "OH YES" there was a hearing. 

Several people took screenshots and made printouts of how the website looked last night.
I looked today and saw there were a couple of things added... in the past!


Remember the date of this entry is
Wednesday October 8th

What's strange is that that actual notice of FERC's intent to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for this project was published on September 18th ... This was THREE WEEKS AGO!.


Notice, there is STILL NO MENTION OF THE public hearing --
until you click a link off the main page, and then the project description is quite vague.

These very serious problems with notification and accessibility are clear violations of Open Meetings law, and the Due Process rights of many people. 


Over 200 people showed up
 in a room with a maximum safe capacity of 132.
In complete disregard to public safety and the law, the FERC project manager who conducted the meeting, Eric Tomasi, refused to stop the meeting despite 10 min. of loud protestations from the crowd. 
Unfortunately, this is a metaphor for how Eric's bosses, the FERC commissioners,
operate in dozens of dockets: ACT WITHOUT REGARD TO PUBLIC SAFETY

Photo: Eddie Rodriguez

Eric, the FERC project manager kept saying,

  • I didn't know there would be this level of interest.
  • I didn't know it wasn't on the website.
  • He didn't know he should have brought a public address system
    so people could hear in the back.
  • He claimed he didn't know about other FERC projects (like MINISINK, like the TGP cases, like the NJ-NY Spectra case, like "Constitution" and many others)  where substantial issues raised during scoping sessions which have been ignored
  • He didn't know that one scoping session for a project spanning 200+ linear miles of pipeline  wasn't adequate.
  • He didn't know that FERC was continuing to segment projects
    in violation of Federal Law and also IN DEFIANCE of a Court Order
  • He didn't know the Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP) of the New Market Project.
  • He didn't know if the MAOP would be increased in this 50 year old brittle, corroded pipe as the result of 33,000 HP of additional compression...
  • He didn't know the nominal operating pressure of the existing pipeline (off the top of his head), but he thought it might be 1480 psig-- (Holy KerBlammo, Batman! This is an extremely high pressure only being used on the most modern, state-of-the-art pipe and assembly procedures!)
  • He also didn't seem to know this scheme may be a really bad idea.
  • "Sorry! I DON'T KNOW!!" -- over and over.

To his benefit, Project Manager Tomasi *did* know the reason the MAOP was important is because it determined the Potential Impact Radius.

Maybe he saw this video :)

There is so much more to tell you about this meeting, folks.
Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Statewide Bulletin: Urgent Action Needed! Wed 10/8 -- Madison County.


Share this link:
Or this:

This Wed 10/8 -- Madison County NY


FERC hearing Docket CP14-497
Dominion New Market Project
Upgrades to 6 facilities in 6 counties.
Affects 200 miles of pipeline.


THIS Wednesday 10/8  7pm.


Georgetown Town Hall
(Madison County NY)
995 State Route 26,
Georgetown, NY 13072

There should be a NYAF bulletin coming on this... sometime!!
Watch your inbox.

ALERT: THIS Wednesday 10/8!!
FERC hearing. Madison County NY.Georgetown Town Hall.

This is a big deal.
Affects a 200 mile stretch of pipeline.
  • Horseheads, Chemung County
  • Dryden, Tompkins County
  • Georgetown, Madison County
  • Utica, Oneida County
  • Ft. Plain, Montgomery County
  • Schenectady, Schenectady County
Here is an APPROXIMATE map to see mileage and approx. facility locations

More accurate route:
Yellow Dots are new facilities or upgrades:

Please change your plans
and come to this if you are able.
Please share this on your local listservs.
Share this link on social media:

This is a major infrastructure project
which has slipped under the radar.
We all missed this...

The Docket only has 59 entries.
I heard that Sandra may be getting involved in this.

for more info

Here is the application.
Please scan it if you can before Wed:

CP14-497 Dominion New Market Project Application

This is a RED ALERT

Be on standby for Wednesday in Madison County.
More is coming soon.
(draft, under revision):
Here's a map where you can see what is related to this:
(Hint: Turn off all layers except Operational Pipelines and Compressor Stations).

There are many things to explore on this map.
Zoom in and pan around.
Notice, for example, the Arlington Pipeline
is a direct connection between
Crestwood Storage Facility @ Seneca Lake
and the Dominion Pipeline!

Here is an Ithaca connection:
Facility Upgrades at Borger Station
Town of Dryden,.

Hey-- Can someone activate those awesome DRAC folks!?

MORE IS COMING SOON-- stand by and please be on alert
This is a big deal.

Please make phone calls to a few friends
due to short notice.

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Don't forget to sign the
Pledge to Resist
the Constitution Pipeline:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fact Sheet for Dominion New Market Project

On September 18th, FERC issued a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment
for the proposed Dominion New Market Project, request for comments on environmental issues,
and Notice of Public Scoping Meeting re Dominion Transmission, Inc under CP14-497.
  • We are now on pubic comment period on the EA,
    which ends Oct 20, 2014
  • There will be a single FERC scoping hearing,
    Wed Oct 8th, 7:30pm Georgetown Town Hall (Madison Co NY).
  • It is URGENT to get a large turnout for this.
There are very few people commenting on this docket.
Would be great to get some more eyes on this!!

Quick facts and summary:
  • FERC docket is CP14-497

    You can view the entire docket, including all the comments and the application
    by clicking on this link:

    (NOTE: CORRECTED LINK 10-5-2014 9:45 PM),issuance&dkt=CP14-497&ft=fulltext&dsc=description

    See above map for the approximate route and facilities description.
  • 33,000 HP of new compression proposed
    • 11,000 HP at Horseheads Chemung Co
      53,949 tons per year in CO2-e GHG emissions)

    • 10,880 HP at DeRuyter Madison Co.,   (54,351 tpy)

    • 11,113 HP at Brookman Corners, Fort Plain Montgomery County  (96,683 tpy)
  • Total ~205,000 tpy CO2-e GHG emissions.
    • A coal train 1 mile long, 100x 100 ton cars = 10,000 tons.
    • So 205,000 tons is a coal train 20.5 miles long.
    • EPA's Tailoring Rule makes 100,000 tpy the threshold for a "major source". 
    • Since none of these exceeds 100,000 tpy, then this project is not considered a "major source",
      even though cumulatively, it does!

      This project should be considered a MAJOR EMISSIONS SOURCE
      and be subject to title V permitting requirements.
    • More info:
  • FERC has two parallel paths,
    • the FULL EIS (Environmental Impact Statement)
    • and the EA (Fast track).
    • This project is being fast tracked.
    • Maya van Rossum of Delaware Riverkeeper says this is an illegal abuse of NEPA,
      as NEPA requires an EA in EVERY case, which SHOULD determine if a full EIS is necessary
    • However when FERC pre-decides on an EA, this almost always means they will not do a full EIA (which can take years).
    • DEMAND that a full EIS be made
  • FERC and Dominion are hiding critical safety information from the public, i.e., MAOP and other details
    about the existing pipeline which prevent the public from independently verifying safety information.

    YOU SHOULD DEMAND that FERC make this critical safety information available:

    MAOP, as well as operating pressure before/after the new compressors are added,
    existing pipe specification? Is it ERW pipe? Details about cathodic protection-- has it been
    maintained for 50 years? Inspection details, pigging history, etc. Yield strength of the pipeline,
    and year constructed. Is an Alternation MAOP being used? What is the temperature of the gas?
  • This pipeline was constructed in the early 1960's. At that time, the most common type of pipe in use was called LF-ERW (Low frequency, Electrical Resistance Welding). This type of pipe is well known to have defective welds which are subject to failure over time.
  • The federal formula for calculating Class, Potential Impact Radius, and High Consequence Areas
    are grossly deficient. Class only considers 660' from the centerline, but pipelines of this size
    when they rupture typically have an impact radius of 1,000 to 1,400 ft.

    The potential impact radius (PIR) formula used has been off by a factor of 2.5x, and up to 595'ft.

    This means the calculation for who lives in a High Consequence Area
    is grossly incorrect.
    Many people are not counted, and many lives are thus placed into jeopardy, since rural areas
    ("Class 1") are screwed in federal safety regulations a dozen different ways.
  • What is the safety and compliance record of the operator? This should be in the docket on
    ON THE RECORD (required that FERC consider this under the Natural Gas Act)
  • In dozens of projects, the public have been asking FERC to consider upstream impacts (eg, widespread  water contamination near fracked gas wells) and downstream impacts (radon gas in homes),  however FERC has defied these requests.
  • FERC has been ordered by a panel of 3 federal judges in "Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. FERC"
    to a) consider cumulative impacts as required by NEPA, and to b) stop segmenting projects in violation of NEPA.  However FERC is defying the federal courts and the law.
  • This project should be considered a segment of a massive buildout of fracked gas infrastructure in the Northeast. Here is a list of SOME but not all of these projects. NOTE that the environmental impacts of all of these are being considered INDIVIDUALLY, and there are NO cumulative impact analyses being done.
  • It is NOT TOO LATE to intervene in this project!

    Only intervenors will have a right to sure FERC or the applicant  in the future.
    I urge ANYONE who lives in the region,  or is even remotely impacted or
    concerned about the regional impacts this project will bring to intervene. 

    Here is a video which shows how to intervene step-by-step BUT IS FOR A DIFFERENT
    , so you will have to substitute the docket for this project:

    Use this: CP14-497
  • Here is a link to a video series about this project.
    Some general info about pipelines are included.
  • If you are using a mobile device, this link may work better to show you all the segments:

IT IS CRITICAL that all of your concerns be made during the comment period,
and that we get a big turnout.

You can use FERC's eComment to make a quick comment on the docket without

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Gas Drillers and Industrial Polluters Get CLEAN SLATE in NY!

Industrial Polluters in NY State get a CLEAN SLATE from DEC!

Here's some amazing things I learned today
from talking to Johnny Wunder,
a local guy you made an amazing website to harvest
official data from NYS DEC regarding Oil and Gas wells,
as well as toxic chemical spills.

Of 6885 spills in this dataset, which is everything recorded
for the last 12 years covering 7 NY counties in the Southern Tier,
none are attributed to any source!  

Nor does the NYS DEC publish environmental records of any company.

So you know how the gas industry hacks are always saying:
"There's been gas drilling in NY for 100 years
and there's never been any problems!"
      -- typical gas industry booster

Because of how the reporting is done,
The Oil and Gas industry in NY
has a clean slate according the NYS DEC!
Spills over a certain size associated with mining activity
get investigated by the Minerals Division,
which is a "big black hole", according to Johnny.
He said the paper trail ends there.


Also, get this--
The NYSDEC doesn't investigate and write spill report.
The company who made the mess gets to write the report!

How do you feel about that?

Do you trust corporate industrial polluters
to tell the truth?


Additionally, the entire system is archaic.

Most compliance forms are on paper
and sent through the US Mail, and stored only
in a filing cabinet in some DEC regional office.
So records which might indict the safety of
these companies is not online, and not easily
If you ask for such info under FOIL
you will likely get "No Records Found".

Spills are Propitiatory and Confidential!

For spills associated with oil and gas drilling
there is a 90 day period of "confidentiality" allowed,
allegedly due to the "competitive nature" of O+G mining,

So the information is embargoed away
from public eyes for 90 days after the spill!
If the industry can hide it from view,
this means: NO PIZZA FOR YOU!

Just write "UNKNOWN" on the form,
and call for the vacuum truck!"

For many spills, the quantity is recorded as "unknown".

Oh really? No idea at all?
This is probably due to the self-reporting, and that NYS DEC  has so few inspectors for this region.

So industrial polluters in NY can say whatever the frack they like.

6885 spills, 100% officially have unknown causes
Most wells are lucky to get a site
visit every 18-24 months. Spills are commonly not inspected at all or
investigated thoroughly, and in 6885 spills,
NONE are attributed to any source!
So despite the fact that,
according to NYS DEC,
there were 6885 chemical spills
in 7 counties over 12 years,
and that most of these spills related industrial activity,
and many associated with the 4123 oil and gas wells in the region,

NONE of these spills are officially associated
with oil and gas drilling,
or have any official cause whatsoever

Have a nice day!


Johnny impressed upon me that while he thinks all the
activist energy which was focused upon the SGEIS and
Regs for fracking shale in NY got all the attention it did,

He says the existing permitting process, spill reporting system,
compliance reporting, and regulatory enforcement
of the many EXISTING CONVENTIONAL Oil and Gas wells in NY
is sorely lacking.
He has impacted water from the drilling of the Stagecoach field,
and has not consumed his local water for about 10 years.

While he is moving out of the area,
he thinks we should pressure the Legislature
to review and modernize the entire system
around permitting and reporting of all Oil+Gas mining
in NY, as there is a DIRE NEED for quality public information.
He has tried to make tools, covering at least the area near where
he lives, accessible to the public on the internet for free,
to partially make up for the extreme deficiencies in the  NYS DEC
online reports, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

FERC is a Rubber Stamp Machine!

We all know FERC's a Rubber Stamp Machine! 
Recorded the 1 May 2014 (day of Minisink trial at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals).


We're here at FERC to have our say
So listen closely, don't walk away
This is your country It's yours to save
You're letting fossil fuels dig our grave

Across the land from sea to sea
The gas-men drill the earth so carelessly
They poison water, they cut down trees
To put in pipelines that we don't need

And we all know that FERC's a rubber stamp machine,
it's not for you and me, it's paid by permit fees
We all know that FERC's a rubber stamp machine,
It won't protect you, it won't protect me

You guys at FERC, so you say
Will regulate the pipes, and keep us safe
Tell me then how industry
Puts dangerous pipelines in NYC

Our upstate friends are feeling down
The Constitution Pipeline, will wreck their towns
With leaky pipes and clear cut trees
Fracked wells and poisoned springs

We all know that FERC's a rubber stamp machine,
a rubber stamp machine, a rubber stamp machine
We all know your hearings are a total joke,
FERC is just a fraud, it's all a bunch of smoke

Full speed ahead, Mr. FERC Inspector! Full speed ahead!
Full speed it is Mr. Gasman!
Cut the trees down! Carve up the landscape!
Spread that toxic waste on the roads!
Aye aye, Sir! Aye aye!

And we fight cause we believe
No one should be forced to ever breathe
Skies of ozone (Skies of ozone) and benzene (and toluene)
In our ferky (our ferky jerky) democracy (bureaucracy, ha-ha!)

We all know that gas is anything but green
It poisons all our wells, or blows to smithereens
And we all know that FERC's a rubber stamp machine,
It won't protect you, it won't protect me

We all know that FERC's a rubber stamp machine,
a rubber stamp machine, a rubber stamp machine
We all know that FERC's a rubber stamp machine,
It won't protect you, it won't protect me.

Music: Paul McCartney
Lyrics: Kim Fraczek
Camera: Leland Snyder, Charlie Olson, Peter Eliscu
Sound/Edit: BH

Thanks to the FERC-etts!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tom Wilbur's two part update on the IBM Endicott TCE Plume

A Toxic Legacy

Chemical spills in Endicott were the result of years of inattention by IBM to a series of breaches in the plant’s piping system, court papers claim.

MONDAY: Health officials are reassessing estimates on TCE exposure, with the possibility that they will lower acceptable limits, which could have major impacts on the remediation efforts in Endicott

Pumping away a polluted legacy from IBM in Endicott
Chemical infiltration lawsuit could be heard by next year

Written by
Tom Wilber
Special to the Press & Sun-Bulletin

4:31 PM, May 31, 2014
ENDICOTT — For 35 years, pumps have been operating around the clock attempting to undo the damage from spilled chemicals that tainted air, soil and water in 300-acres around IBM’s birthplace and more than 475 residential properties.

The pumps pull pollution from the ground through structures called recovery wells. Over time, these wells have grown in number from four to more than 22, and to date they have recovered more than 815,000 pounds of trichloroethylene and other toxic chemicals, with an unknown amount remaining beneath the village.

But only now, nearly a dozen years after affected residents filed multi-million dollar liability lawsuits against IBM, is the company’s connection with the pollution being detailed. The new information comes from evidence related to a claim that the chemical disaster was a result of years of inattention by IBM to a series of breaches in the plant’s piping system.

IBM officials have never publicly explained their role in the disaster, and their legal position is the company always handled chemicals responsibly and in accordance with standards of the day.

Yet, those suing IBM have compiled documents and testimony from internal company sources that depict a pattern of indifference by the company, even after being warned on numerous occasions by their own employees that rusty tanks and leaky pipes posed a serious hazard.

Among revelations contained in papers filed with the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court last spring:

• IBM engineering reports from 1979 and 1980 documented “a subsurface pool of nearly pure solvent” ranging from several inches to 2 feet deep between Building 18 and Building 45, in the vicinity where IBM stored and handled chemicals. The solvent collected in a depression in a silt layer at the base of a shallow aquifer over the years, and flowed off site through various underground channels. Chemicals also mixed and moved with the water table above. TCE was a “pervasive” component of the chemical plume, according to the documents. But the mixture also included methyl chloroform, perchloroethylene, benzene, with smaller concentrations of methylene chloride, Freon, toluene and xylene.
• Chemicals leaked from a deteriorating network of tanks and pipelines at the IBM campus from the mid 1960s through the mid 1980s, according to court documents. A team of plaintiffs’ attorneys, lead by Steve Schwarz of the Rochester law firm of Faraci and Lang, cites testimony from IBM personnel that “the inability to account for a few thousand gallons of chemicals happened often.” They also cite a memo, dated October 18, 1979, in which “an IBM employee discusses the deteriorated condition of the tanks and pipes ... which the memo claims has been pointed out numerous times before.” Two months later, according to the legal brief, one of the rusted pipes ruptured and caused a spill of several thousand gallons.

• IBM leadership apparently did not respond to warnings from engineers that the solvent pool, which estimates put between 10,000 gallons and 1 million gallons, posed an imminent danger, according to claims outlined in court documents. “As two engineers memos, another engineers testimony, and the 1979 (Dames and Moore) consultant report make clear, IBM was well aware of the loss of these toxic chemicals to the ground through leaking pipes and tanks, and IBM chose to ignore the problem rather than fix it,” the brief states.

As a result of the toxic plume discovered underneath Endicott, more than 1,000 plaintiffs have signed on to a toxic tort suit that seeks damages for claims ranging from trespass to terminal illnesses. The case has been winding its way through the legal process since 2003, shortly after officials discovered that in-ground chemicals were forming fumes and wafting into residences and nearby businesses — a phenomenon called vapor intrusion.

Ground rules for trial

In the absence of a settlement, both sides are preparing for a trial that could finally come next year. In the meantime, their arguments over ground rules for determining what claims can be heard must still be decided.

The case is gaining significance, especially regarding questions about whether exposure to a harmful chemical in itself constitutes an injury, and whether polluters can be held responsible for medical monitoring. “None of this was answered before,” said Thomas Smith, a toxic tort lawyer with Syracuse law firm Bond Schoeneck & King, who has been monitoring the case on his blog and is not involved in the proeedings.
IBM sold the 140-acre campus to Huron Real Estate Associates in 2002. Current tenants include i3 Electronics (formerly Endicott Interconnect), BAE Systems, Binghamton University, among others.

IBM officials have not denied their former operations were a primary contributor to the pollution. They have not admitted it, either, nor have they offered a detailed explanation of the source of the problem.

The company has long contended it is following the responsible path, picking up the sizable costs for cleaning the spill and providing venting systems for properties designated at risk for vapor intrusion.
According to IBM spokesman Todd Martin, the company is cleaning up the solvents from multiple industries that have operated in the region’s industrialized corridor for generations. Endicott was also home to the vast shoe manufacturing empire of Endicott Johnson Corp., once the region’s largest employer.

“You are well aware of the numerous businesses, dry cleaning establishments and manufacturing operations that existed in Endicott,” Martin said recently when asked how the chemicals got into the ground. “Despite that fact, IBM is the only company performing the cleanup.”

However, the toxic liability suit names only IBM as the source of the chemicals that tainted parts of Endicott’s commercial district and nearby residences.

Both sides have scored some initial victories. Lower courts have ruled against IBM’s motion to have the case dismissed, and have ruled in favor of a plaintiff’s motion to have charges of negligence — the underpinnings of the case — tried before a jury.

But lower court rulings have also eliminated or limited some aspects of the litigation, including the charge that the pollution constitutes a trespass in all cases, and the claim that IBM should be held accountable for monitoring the medical condition of all plaintiffs, including non-property owners such as children.

Ongoing medical monitoring for a large group would entail “a huge expense” for IBM, Smith said. Removing that claim is a notable victory for the company, and that victory could strengthen the company’s hand in forcing a settlement. All issues are still in play, however, until the appeals are finished, he added.
But many of the early legal filings have been procedural with the real fireworks yet to begin.

“Plaintiffs put enough facts on the record to question the assessment by IBM that they did everything right,” Smith said. “That was a significant win for them.”

Even if IBM proves it followed an accepted “standard of care” in regard to handling the chemicals and subsequent pollution, plaintiffs can argue the standard was insufficient, he said.

IBM was able to limit claims for medical monitoring to only people claiming other damages, such as illness or property loss, Smith said. That eliminates claims for a potentially large group of plaintiffs — renters or children for example — who may have been exposed but did not develop illnesses or suffer property damage.

Other details about IBM’s use of chemicals at the site that was once IBM’s main manufacturing center are coming to light in court papers now on file.

According to a brief filed by a team of IBM attorneys in July, the company used TCE at the Endicott plant from the mid 1930s through the mid 1980s, first as a degreaser and later in the production of circuit boards and cards.

“There are no documented spills or leaks of material amounts of TCE,” the brief says, adding that records from the plant’s early years “are scarce.” After production volumes peaked in the 1960s, the chemical was phased out over the next few decades as its health risks became known.

IBM, with permission from the village, legally discharged wastewater with “trace amounts” of TCE and other solvents into municipal sewers until 1983. “Although the plaintiffs claim that the sewers leaked TCE into the ground there was no reason at the time to expect that this practice would result in groundwater contamination or vapor intrusion some distance away,” the company said in court papers.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation launched an investigation into the company’s groundwater pollution in the late 1970s, according to the IBM brief. But the focus “was to prevent any groundwater contamination from reaching municipal drinking water supplies; vapor intrusion did not become a regulatory concern until two decades later.”
New studies

By 2003, however, officials recognized that chronic exposure to even low concentrations of TCE fumes posed risks. Breathing chemicals was potentially worse than drinking them. IBM installed vents to divert vapors from buildings off campus.

Venting was pursued off IBM’s former campus, but not on site, where buildings on site were deemed poor candidates for effective remediation due to their size and design. “A lot of it has to do with the complexity of the buildings,” DEC Engineer William Wertz said in an interview in 2005. “It’s not clear there would be any benefit.”

TCE readings in tests at 36 buildings on the Huron campus in 2005 ranged between 0 and 17 micrograms per cubic meter. Although the state’s limit for TCE exposure is 5 micrograms per cubic meter, officials characterized risk to workers as low.

Since then, federal studies have sharpened the picture. In late 2011, after years of delay due to opposition from parties in the military and private sector responsible for TCE legacy sites, the federal Environmental Protection Agency finally completed a formal assessment. The assessment found, based on a comprehensive review, that chronic TCE exposure causes kidney cancer. The assessment also found a strong link between TCE exposure and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as association between TCE exposure and other cancers and illnesses.

The TCE plume in Endicott, meanwhile, has been the focus of federal and state health studies designed to determine whether people living in homes over the plume, or working at the plant, were more inclined to get certain illnesses. The results have raised more flags.

In 2005, the state Department of Health documented high rates of birth defects of the heart, and testicular and kidney cancers in areas south and southwest of the former IBM plant polluted with TCE and similar solvents. While the report did not determine a cause, scientists cited evidence that TCE exposure can play a role in the types of illnesses found.

Findings by the Department of Health led to calls from IBM critics for an assessment of the health of people who worked at the plant, which employed more than 10,000 people at its peak in the mid 1980s. In 2008, The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health embarked on a 6-year $3.2 million study, encouraged by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D- Hurley, now retired, who then ran the Appropriations Committee.
The NIOSH study, released earlier this year, found deaths from certain cancers tended to be higher for workers with greater exposure to TCE and similar solvents. Specifically, researchers found a “statistically significant relation” between exposure to TCE and deaths from a certain type of leukemia, and an elevated rate of fatal kidney cancers.

While deaths in IBM’s overall working population were relatively low, the study found elevated rates of deaths from nervous system diseases, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, mesothelioma, pleural cancer, rectal cancer and testicular cancer for certain worker groups.

In addition to long term exposure concerns, there is evidence that short-term exposure poses risks to childbearing women. Unlike cancer, caused by chronic exposure to certain substances, birth defects are thought to be the result of periodic or acute exposure, often in the first trimester of pregnancy.

In response to that concern, and as a follow-up to the 2005 DOH study, NIOSH researchers looked at birth outcomes for women who worked at the plant during childbearing years. Those results are due out later this year.

The studies raise questions about associations between exposure and disease in the language of statistical probability commonly used in policy discussions. But they refrain from building a case against polluters.

Lawyers suing IBM, on the other hand, are doing just that with experts who have modeled exposure scenarios and quantified the risks for clients. Among the law firms representing village residents in its claim against IBM is Manhattan’s Weitz & Luxenberg, which counts New York Assembly Majority Leader Sheldon Silver in its list of lawyers.

While the legal briefs filed in state Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court reference this model, the public will have to wait for the trial to see the detailed testimony and evidence. And it’s still possible that day could be postponed or canceled in lieu of a settlement.


  • • 1930s: IBM begins using trichloroethylene, or TCE, at its Endicott plant in the mid-1930s first as a degreaser and later in the production of circuit boards. Use of TCE peaked in the 1960s at the plant. 
  • • December 1979: A leak in the distribution system releases 4,100 gallons of methyl chloroform at the IBM Endicott campus. Cleanup efforts begin.
  • December 1980: IBM releases a report to the state Department of Environmental Conservation showing that tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals are pooled under its Endicott property. The pool of ranges from several inches to 2 feet deep and contains mostly TCE. Also present are methyl chloroform, perchloroethylene, benzene, methylene chloride, Freon, toluene and xylene.
  • June 1986: Pollution at the site is downgraded on the state’s hazardous waste registry from Class 2 (posing a public threat) to Class 4 (properly closed).
  • • November 2002: Testing at the Endicott plant shows chemical vapors from pollution are rising through the soil, contrary to earlier beliefs that chemicals were trapped in the ground.
  • • June 2002: IBM sells the 140-acre campus in Endicott to Huron Real Estate Associates. IBM retains responsibility for the cleanup.
  • February 2003: Tests show unacceptable levels of TCE, in houses south of the Endicott plant. IBM installs systems to vent 75 properties and test 55 more in a broader area.
  • June 2003: DEC orders IBM to accelerate cleanup that has been ongoing since 1979.
  • July 2003: Tests show more Endicott buildings affected by chemical vapors bringing the total to 480. IBM installs venting systems to divert fumes from the buildings.
  • • August 2005: The state Department of Health documents high rates of birth defects of the heart, and testicular and kidney cancers in areas south and southwest of the former IBM plant polluted with TCE and similar solvents.
  • • May 2006: A follow-up report confirms the high rate of birth defects and certain cancers among residents in areas near the Endicott plant and rules out some possible explanations for the birth defects, such as prenatal care.
  • • March 2007: An updated assessment finds other factors, such as smoking or occupational hazards, could not explain the spike in illnesses in the Endicott neighborhoods. TCE pollution remains a suspect.
  • May 2009: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health begins a $3.1 million study on the correlation between exposure to chemicals and the health of thousands of IBM employees who worked at the facility over several decades.
  • July 2010: IBM installs a test injection well that sends clean water into the ground in an attempt to flush out TCE. The company plans to install more wells by the end of 2010 and meets with the DEC and residents on Aug. 25 at Union-Endicott High School for an update on remediation efforts.
  • • September 2011: A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment finds that chronic TCE exposure causes kidney cancer. It also found a strong link between TCE exposure and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers and illnesses.
  • • January 2012: A state health department study links congenital heart problems, low birth weight and other birth defects to soil vapors from industrial contaminants found in a 70-block area of Endicott, south of the former IBM manufacturing facility.
  • January 2014: A five-year study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health finds higher death rates from certain types of leukemia and kidney cancers for workers with greater exposure to TCE and similar solvents.
  • • 2003-2014: Legal action builds during this time in the pollution case against IBM. A mid-level appeals court decision early this year ends in a split ruling on pre-trial issues. Attorneys are expected to ask New York’s highest court to hear arguments in the case. An eventual trial is expected to be postponed by yet even more appeals.
  • 1979-2014: More than 815,000 pounds of trichloroethylene (TCE) and other industrial solvents have been pumped from 300 acres around the IBM site that encompasses more than 475 homes and businesses, according to records from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

State health officials reopen Huron TCE investigation

New studies prompt reevaluation of exposure guidelines

Written by
Tom Wilber
Special to the Press & Sun-Bulletin
5:31 PM, Jun 1, 2014

ENDICOTT — Exposure to TCE pollution deemed unsafe for village residents is acceptable for workers at the Huron Campus, state health officials determined in 2005.

That assessment may change this year, however, as the state Department of Health takes into account new evidence that TCE is more toxic than previously thought.

Eliminating trichloroethylene (TCE) vapors has posed mechanical and engineering challenges at the manufacturing buildings, which sit over the highest concentrations of a chemical plume spreading from the former IBM campus through 300 acres of the village. Pollution forms gases that enter buildings and enclosed spaces — a process known as vapor intrusion. The type of systems used to divert chemicals from under smaller residential buildings are ineffective on large cement structures, according to officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The campus, former quarters for IBM Corp.’s microelectronics division before it sold the site in 2002, is now home to BAE Systems, i3 Electronics (formerly Endicott Interconnect), Binghamton University and other smaller firms that collectively employ about 2,000 workers. Air samples taken from manufacturing buildings in 2005 and 2011 found TCE levels to be detectible, but below what officials considered a significant health threat.

The major question: What are safe levels of TCE vapor exposure? That’s open for debate and interpretation.

The state Department of Health is reviewing data in the context of recent studies about TCE risks “to ensure that previous decisions and recommendations continue to protect public health,” agency spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said in a recent email. Officials have been evaluating TCE’s impact on public heath and the environment in Endicott since 1979, when the pollution was discovered.

In 2003, after vapor intrusion was discovered in Endicott, the state changed the guideline from 0.22 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter. (A cubic meter is an area roughly the size of a large refrigerator. A microgram is equivalent to one millionth of a gram.) At the time, vapor intrusion sites were being discovered throughout the state, contamination was prevalent, and eliminating the chemical from the environment would be prohibitively expensive if not impossible.

“There is a lot of politics around it because how ubiquitous TCE is and how expensive it is to clean up,” said Steve Schwarz, an attorney who represents villagers suing IBM for damages related to the pollution. “It’s not only about what’s safest, but what’s attainable. Absolute zero is the safest. There has to be some judgment about what people can accept.”

Indoor air samples at 42 campus buildings collected in 2005 — the last time the state oversaw testing — ranged from zero to 17 micrograms per cubic meter in some areas that tended to be occupied. Levels were much higher in other areas — often registering between 50 and 300 micrograms per cubic meter in tunnels and tank rooms below Building 18, for example. Concentrations in the soil directly below the buildings often exceeded 10,000 micrograms per cubic meter and sometimes were over 100,000. Before moving into the campus in 2012, BAE tested air in several buildings and found them within acceptable limits.

Company shares data

BAE officials have shared information about TCE levels on campus with workers and will continue to voluntarily monitor air quality at the plant, company spokeswoman Liz Ryan Sax said in an email. The company commissioned another round of testing recently, and results are expected later this year.

“The health and well-being of our employees are primary concerns, and we are committed to providing all of our teams with a safe working environment,” she said. “Whenever safety guidelines change in relation to any BAE facility, we work with the necessary parties to understand the impact and take appropriate action,” she added.

Robert Nead, president of i3 Electronics, responded in a statement that the i3 buildings “are currently in compliance, and we will continue to comply with regulations of the Department of Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure our employees’ safety.”

IBM Corp. is responsible for cleaning the plume of TCE and other industrial solvents, which had drained orleaked or were dumped into the ground for an unknown number of years at the manufacturing site, and eventually seeped into surrounding parts of the village. Under the state’s supervision, officials have adopted a policy to reduce TCE levels wherever they have been detected within the chemical plume’s footprint outside the industrial park — an area with an irregular boundary that reaches approximately a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile south of the compound.
A study of mortality rates of IBM workers, completed by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health earlier this year, found people who worked at the campus had relatively high rates of deaths from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, mesothelioma, pleural cancer, rectal cancer and testicular cancer. The study also found a “statistically significant relation” between exposure to tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene, or PCE, and deaths from nervous system diseases, and between exposure to TCE and deaths from a certain type of leukemia. The study looked at records from 34,494 workers from 1969 through 2001, including people who had worked at the site before TCE was phased out.

Following the release of the NIOSH study, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, sent a letter to the state Department of Health asking it to adopt a more stringent standard for TCE vapor exposure.

Lupardo is among a group that believes there should be a non-discretionary approach and a much lower threshold, especially in light of the review of the 2011 literature by the Environmental Protection Agency that documented risks associated with even minute levels of TCE.

Lupardo argued in her request to the Cuomo administration that New York state is woefully behind the curve because of policy changes enacted under Gov. George Pataki’s administration. The current state guideline is above standards developed in California, Colorado, New Jersey and by several EPA regional offices where thresholds range from 0.016 to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter, which fall in line with the 2011 EPA assessment.

Based on the 2005 and 2011 tests, health officials concluded that risks from TCE exposure on the campus were “low,” according to an April 21 email from Hammond, which echoes public documentation and fact sheets about the investigation issued several years ago. That means officials do “not expect to be able to associate health effects” from exposure.

Officials say that determination will not “significantly change.” But there appears to be room for more safeguards after the EPA released a 2011 assessment that tied exposure to cancer and birth defects.
“Once DOH’s review of the TCE air guideline is complete, previous determinations will be reviewed and any recommendations for additional action will be made as necessary,” Hammond said.

Exposure examined

TCE exposure has long been associated with acute and chronic illness ranging from skin rashes to neurological diseases. But policy on exposure guidelines has been a moving target for state and federal governments because of an imprecise and developing body of knowledge about just how much exposure is dangerous, and the controversy over the cost of cleanups and liability ramifications.

Not until 25 years after the Endicott pollution was discovered in 1979 did officials uncover a major problem. TCE in the ground was forming vapors collecting in buildings through a process called vapor intrusion. After the discovery in 2003, IBM equipped more than 475 structures with systems to divert the chemicals, while state and federal officials — pushed by concerned residents — began a series of studies to evaluate the health of people living over the pollution.

The results of the first of these studies, by the state Department of Health, came in 2005. It concluded that people living in the polluted area had significantly elevated rates of birth defects, testicular cancer and kidney cancer. Both the state study of residents and the federal study of workers lacked data to determine a causal relationship for the illnesses, although TCE exposure remains a primary suspect and fundamental hypothesis for both studies.

Nathan Graber, director of the state’s Center for Environmental Health, told Lupardo on March 7 that his agency is in the process of a review of allowable TCE vapor limits. Graber wrote the agency “will consider the EPA’s health risk assessment and any other scientific studies published since the existing guideline was established in 2006, including the recent National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study.” He added: “We are not aware of any groups opposed to a revision of the guideline.”
Although the guideline is 5 micrograms per cubic meter, the agency evaluates risks on a case-by-case basis, Graber said, taking into account multiple factors, including background levels of TCE. In some instances, the health department will recommend remediation even if levels fall below the guideline.

Lupardo sponsored a bill in 2008, yet to make it to the Assembly floor, that would revise TCE exposure policy to incorporate “the most protective underlying assumptions” about risks. Rather than a guideline, Lupardo said she is pushing for a number that will “serve as a line for action, especially given what we know about TCE from the EPA Health Assessment and the NIOSH study.”

Changes considered

If workers are not using TCE as part of the job, they should not be exposed to it above background levels, said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, a California-based environmental advocacy organization that has been following IBM’s TCE legacy.

If they are exposed to it, then they should know the risks, Siegel said, pointing to recent studies associating risks to child-bearing women exposed to relatively minor concentrations of the chemical over short periods.

“Birth defects are not caused over 30 years,” he said. “They come in the first trimester of pregnancy. And we don’t know whether that exposure might come in three weeks or one day.”

Lupardo said she finds the application of the current guideline unsatisfactory. Occupational health officials justify higher exposure tolerances to dangerous chemicals at the workplace partly due to the logic that workers are exposed to the chemicals for only part of the day. But the guideline fails to consider thatpeople working at the former IBM campus and living nearby may have suffered exposure in both their work and their homes.

As a member of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Lupardo has been following the state’s TCE policy since vapor intrusion was discovered in 2002. In 2008, she sponsored a law requiring landlords to notify tenants of polluted property. She lauds BAE’s practice of notifying employees of TCE levels, and she thinks other companies located over polluted sites should do the same.
“I think workers have a right to know similar information about their workplaces,” she said.

Vapor intrusion levels tend to fluctuate with many factors, including seasonal changes in underground water levels and temperature differences between indoor and outdoor air. While the studies by IBM in 2006 and by BAE in 2011 provide snapshots of exposure risks, accurately tracking TCE levels constantly on the move through soil, water and air requires ongoing monitoring, Siegel said.

The plant — under both IBM and Huron — has served as a major economic engine of the Southern Tier, and politicians and labor proponents have an especially keen grasp on its legacy as well as its importance to the future well-being of the area.

“Our area in particular has learned that ignoring these concerns will hurt our ability to attract new businesses and industries in the long run,” Lupardo said. “The people of Endicott have endured a lot through all of this. My father would have said, ‘They’ve been through the mill.’ They deserve some peace of mind and closure.”