A gold rush town no more

Endicott, N.Y., is now a "toxic plume" after the old IBM plant spilled toxic chemicals into the ground in the 1970s.

Mark Bacon of Endicott lives at Ground Zero.

He lives across the street from IBM's former plant on North Street in Endicott, N.Y., a facility that during its manufacturing processes spilled toxic chemicals into the ground in the 1970s.

Years later, the vapors rising from the trichloroethylene (TCE) polluted grounds are allegedly making residents of the town sick.

It's also partly to blame for the town's economic decline.

"It reminds me of the old days with the gold rush, this place used to be booming," Bacon said. "IBM had 18,000 people over there, now IBM is employing about 800."

The pollution is hurting residents' abilities to sell their property and conduct business in the downtown area, which is just down the street from TCE spill.

After the announcement in 2002 of the TCE spill fallout, Bacon hasn't been able to sell or rent his property.

"Basically, I live on top of a toxic plume, and nobody wants to live on top of a toxic plume," Bacon said. "I would like to move. I would like IBM to buy my building so somebody else doesn't have to buy it, and live on top of a toxic plume.

"They contaminated this property and they should have bought it."

In 2007, Drew Lewis, owner of Re-Up Clothing Store on Washington Avenue, just down the street from the plume, rented the space out but wasn't aware that his property was located in a polluted area.

"I have an apartment out here and a business out here and neither my landlord or the landlord of [my business] told me anything about that," said Lewis. "Not one word. And that's something they definitely should."

IBM spokesman Michael Maloney said the company would not comment on anything concerning the TCE spill in Endicott.

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