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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: IBM Corporation, Former in Hopewell Junction, New York

On this page:

  • Cleanup Status
  • Site Description
  • Contaminants at this Facility
  • Site Responsibility

Cleanup Status 

Former IBM in Hopewell Junction has implemented a number of remedial actions:

  • Removal of all underground solvent storage tank systems and their surrounding contaminated soil;
  • Closing all underground solvent-conveying piping systems and most of the wastewater lines, replacing them with above-ground piping. Remaining underground lines were doubled-lined;
  • Removal of the entire hazardous waste landfill down to bedrock, and disposing the contents off-site;
  • Removal of the solid waste stored at the Southeast Quadrant land-based storage area;
  • Closure of the construction debris landfill by the placement of an impermeable clay and vegetation layer;
  • Closure of a silicon-containing surface impoundment, capping it with a cover made of reinforced cement;
  • Removal of contaminated soil from under buildings and fire training areas;
  • Implementation of six separate pump-and-treat groundwater treatment systems;
  • Implementation of an extensive groundwater monitoring network to measure the performance of the treatment systems to clean up and control the migration of contaminated groundwater.
  • Cleanup of the West Complex.

IBM retains corrective action responsibilities in the West Complex and has completed the investigation/decontamination of the Solid Waste Management Units (SWMU) located in the West Complex. The New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) concurred with IBM in September 2006 that there is no evidence of soil and groundwater contamination in the West Complex. However, groundwater is still monitored as part of the site-wide groundwater monitoring program and to date, there have been no contaminants at or above risk-based standards.

At the East Complex (430 acres), there are chlorinated and non-chlorinated volatile organic constituents (VOCs) of concern in both the soil and groundwater in several SWMUs. There is no evidence of surface water and sediment contamination. The impacted SWMUs are being remediated through the implementation of interim corrective measures (ICMs) in four defined areas of contamination.

The remediation consisting in a combination of source removal, continuous groundwater pumping and treating, air stripping and carbon adsorption, have been enhanced to be adopted as final measures. Sitewide Remedy Selection and Sitewide Construction Complete performance measures will be achieved once the soil vapor intrusion / indoor issue is addressed by New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

IBM continues to conduct monthly sampling of 165 locations and quarterly groundwater elevation measurements of 387 wells to confirm on-site hydraulic control and containment of the contaminated groundwater. IBM pumps and treats groundwater from the on-site deep bedrock production well system, thus preventing off-site migration. The treated water was used for years as potable water at the IBM facility, but in 2006 IBM has shifted to the use of municipal water.

Air and soil monitoring have been performed by the facility, to confirm that unacceptable threats to human health from actual exposures to contamination are presently not occurring.

In summary, the final remedial measure at this site is addressing remediation in areas A, B, C, D, Building 320, Building 330, Building 322, the Southeast Quadrant, and the deeper bedrock. The remediation of Area C has been completed and is currently being monitored. There is no evidence of surface water or sediment impacts.  

Site Description

IBM's facility is located in Hopewell Junction, New York, bordered on the north by U.S. Route 52, to the east by County Highway 27, and to the south by U.S. Route 84. There is an unnamed creek next to the surrounding open fields to the west.

The 592-acre facility is divided into the East and West Complexes, which are separated by Gildersleeve Brook, John Jay High School and an electrical transmission line. The East Complex covers 430 acres and is used for manufacturing of semiconductor and electronic computing equipment. The West Complex was used for research and development operations until 2004. In December 2005, the West Complex, which covers 162 acres of the IBM facility, was sold for $20 million to Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc., a Real Estate Company for purposes of redevelopment.

Contaminants at this Facility

Chlorinated and non-chlorinated volatile organic constituents (VOCs) exceeding State and Federal standards have been detected in the unsaturated soils and the groundwater at the East Complex, through a groundwater-monitoring program instituted at the site in 1978. Four areas (A, B, C and D) of elevated concentrations of chlorinated organic chemicals were identified.

The Area A plume (principally tetrachloroethylene [PCE]), is located in the northeast portion of the East Complex and underlies all or parts of buildings 303, 308, 309, 310, 316, 385 and 386. The Area A plume is believed to be associated with past practices at the Building 309 tank farm. During the 1980s, this water was treated with a combination of air stripping and carbon-adsorption. This remedial system was activated again in January 2000 due to the high concentrations of PCE found during the groundwater monitoring that year. The air stripping/carbon adsorption system is currently in operation.

The Area B plume is located near the east-central border of the East Complex, approximately 1,200 feet from Building 316. Contamination in this area is associated with fire training operations held in the late 1960s. Contaminants consist of chlorinated organic solvents, principally methylene chloride and/or PCE. Through the 1980s, this plume was treated by continuous pumping and carbon adsorption. This treatment system was shut down in 1988 in response to a decline in groundwater contaminant concentrations.

The Area C plume is in the southeast part of the East Complex, including the area underlying buildings 330C, 335 and 336, the area between these buildings and the eastern border of the facility. The source of the contamination is reported to have been the construction landfills and the former drainage system in Building 330C. Contaminants consist of chlorinated organic solvents, principally PCE. Remediation in this area has included removal of the landfills and continuous pumping and treating of the groundwater at Pumping Well 7.

The Area D plume is located in the northwest part of the East Complex, underlying the wastewater treatment plant at Building 325. Contamination was first detected at this site in 1979. Contamination found in Area D, mainly tetrachloroethene, resulted from fire training operations that occurred during the mid-1970s. Contamination here is reported to be limited to the upper aquifer. This area is under active remediation by pumping and carbon adsorption.

Although a bedrock structure underlies the entire facility, only the Area A plume and a portion of the Area B plume (Buildings B330 and B333) have impacted the bedrock aquifer.
Sampling of wells along the perimeter of the East Complex in 1980 detected the presence of organic contaminants at each perimeter. Two separate studies of off-site groundwater contamination have been conducted by IBM.

In 1981 and 1982, residential wells were sampled. Organic solvents were detected at five homes and carbon adsorption systems installed in those wells. It is not clear that IBM is the source of this off-site contamination because the groundwater from the site is not moving in the direction of these homes; additionally, there are several other industrial contributors to the contamination which are upgradient to the impacted homes.

At this facility, contaminated groundwater is being contained within the boundaries of the facility. IBM pumps and treats groundwater from the on-site deep bedrock production well system, thus preventing off-site migration. The treated water is currently utilized for potable water at the IBM facility.

Since the site is secured by adequate fencing and 24-hour surveillance, neither trespassers nor facility workers are expected to come into contact with contaminated soils. All contaminated soils are covered by clay and liners.

Indoor air monitoring is carried out routinely in all manufacturing buildings located on site, to protect its workers within the buildings. There is no evidence of any threat from air contamination to off-site residents. Air and soil monitoring have been performed by the facility, to confirm that unacceptable threats to human health from actual exposures to contamination are presently not occurring.

However, soil vapor intrusion (SVI) were investigated by New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). All suspected buildings are cleared from SVI issues except Building 320B that still under investigation. Workers having the potential to come into direct contact with contaminants in any media are protected by following a health and safety plan.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

The RCRA NYS Part 373 Permit was issued on October 01, 2011 and will expire on September 30, 2021. A major permit modification reflecting a new operator and responsible party for RCRA corrective action has been processed in June 2015.

The RCRA NYS Part 373 permit regulates the storage and management of hazardous waste in containers, the implementation of interim corrective measures (ICMs) for groundwater, and the operation of a groundwater monitoring network used to assess the performance of the ICMs. The enhanced ICMs have been adopted as final measures.

IBM is currently undergoing a major transformation in its semiconductor manufacturing operation or chip industry, including technologies which will affect the waste management activities and regulatory obligations such as the NYSDEC Part 373 RCRA Permit. More than a half a century after it began operation, it is transferring its chip industry to GlobalFoundries. According to Bloomberg News, IBM is paying $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries in order to shed the costs of its ship division, and keep in place its workers. This historic deal that will close approximately by September 2015 not only changes the role of IBM in the computer industry, also changes the social and economic conditions of Dutchess County.