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.”