Fluoride Action Network

Lithium-ion Battery Recycling: Background on IBM’s pollution in Endicott NY.

Part 2: Archive of NoBurnBroome on their successful opposition to a lithium-ion battery recycling incineration scheme proposed for Endicott, Broome County, NY, between 2020-2021 | By Ellen Connett

Note: This series concerns a proposal to use incineration to recycle lithium-ion batteries. It was proposed for Endicott in Broome County NY. The proposal resulted in the formation of the group NoBurnBroome on April 15, 2020, to oppose the proposal, which it successfully accomplished in February 2021. The Fluoride Action Network was interested in this project because the novel use of incineration to recoup valuable metals would be a new, and non-assessed, exposure route to large amounts of hydrogen fluoride. Index to the series is here.


Endicott, in Broome County, NY, was the home of severe industrial pollution that took place over many decades. The pollution from IBM’s large operation in Endicott was the most recent. IBM dumped carcinogenic chemicals into the ground for over 30 years. Endicott residents learned that their community was contaminated in 2002. This is a brief introduction to that pollution which was the major reason that residents in Endicott fought the proposed incinerator project to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The Air Permit issued to the company (SungEel) noted that four human carcinogens would be emitted from the incinerator stacks. The state had offered SungEel $1.5 million to begin their business in Endicott.

The Endicott Library contains the archives on the Endicott Groundwater Monitoring Program.

On November 24, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the Final Risk Evaluation for Trichloroethylene, commonly known as TCE, the chemical considered to be one of the major toxics released from IBM’s operation in Endicott NY.

• After evaluating 54 conditions of use of TCE, EPA determined that TCE presents an unreasonable risk under 52 conditions of use. This includes unreasonable risks to health of workers and ONUs [occupational non-users] during occupational exposures, and to consumers and bystanders during exposures to consumer uses.
• These unreasonable risks include potential immunosuppression from acute exposures, and autoimmunity and cancer from chronic exposures.
• The conditions of use with unreasonable risks include manufacturing; processing as a reactant/intermediate, processing into a formulation, processing into articles, repackaging and recycling; use in various industrial and commercial uses including as a solvent for cleaning or degreasing; industrial and commercial use in adhesives and sealants, lubricants and greases, functional fluids, paints and coatings, and in a variety of cleaning products; commercial use in several products; several consumer uses; and disposal.
• The conditions of use that EPA determined do not present an unreasonable risk include distribution in commerce and consumer use in pepper spray.”

Final Risk Evaluation of TCE at http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/endicott.tce_.risk_evaluation.nov-2020.pdf

KEY POINTS from the Nontechnical Summary of the TCE Risk Evaluation, http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/endicott.tce_.nontechnical_summary_final.nov-2020.pdf

EPA’s summary page on the TCE Risk Evaluation includes links to many subsets of their evaluation, https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/final-risk-evaluation-trichloroethylene#documents

March 23, 2019. Life In The Plume: IBM’s Pollution Haunts a Village. The Post Standard, Syracuse NY.

“…toxic vapors were discovered in 2002… The contamination of Endicott and the cleanup effort by its main polluter, IBM Corp., have established the village as one of the largest known examples of vapor intrusion, a phenomenon in which volatile chemicals creep from far underground into the air of buildings above.”

“The company even built a water treatment plant equipped with $1.3 million air strippers, with two giant silos filled with what look like plastic whiffle balls that expose the water to air so any solvents in it evaporate before it’s treated. The plant was dedicated in 2005 with a ribbon-cutting and a plaque that says, “This water treatment plant was made possible by the generosity of the IBM Corp.”

2012. Forand SP, Lewis-Michl EL, Gomez MI. Adverse Birth Outcomes and Maternal Exposure to Trichloroethylene and Tetrachloroethylene through Soil Vapor Intrusion in New York. Environmental Health Perspectives 120(4):616-621.

2011. IBM Endicott Site, Health Statistics Review. NY Department of Health. Documents relating to the on-going projects in Endicott may be reviewed, as they become available, at the George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Village of Endicott, 1001 Park Street, Endicott, NY 13760.

2008. Clapp RW and Hoffman K. Cancer mortality in IBM Endicott plant workers, 1969–2001: an update on a NY production plantEnvironmental Health 7:13.

2006. Health consultation: Endicott area investigation: Health statistics review: Cancer and birth outcome analysis, Endicott area, town of Union, Broome County, New York. By the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. HERO ID 730426. Technical Report.

• When data for the two study areas were combined, testicular cancer among males and kidney cancer among males and females combined were significantly elevated.
• When data were grouped by birth defect type, total cardiac defects and major cardiac defects were significantly higher than expected in both study areas combined. Cardiac defects were also significantly elevated in the Eastern study area.
• The incidence of low birth weight was significantly higher than expected in the Eastern area. In addition, the number of term low birth weight births, a subset of low birth weight births, and the number of small for gestational age births were also significantly higher than expected in the Eastern area. The greatest elevations were observed between 1998 and 2002 for each of these outcomes.

2004. IBM Endicott Site, Health Statistics Review: Cancer and Birth Outcome Analysis, Village of Endicott and Endwell, Town of Union, Broome County, NY. A Study Protocol. By the New York State Department of Health, Center for Environmental Health.

Website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Hazardous Waste Cleanup: IBM Corporation in Endicott, New York. 
Documents of IBM Corporation-Endicott Site in Endicott, New York

IBM’s Chronology in Endicott