IBM to Spend $10 Million to Build New Water System to Contaminated Area

The IBM Corp. will pay $10 million to pipe in water to town residents whose water was contaminated by the dumping of a microchip-cleaning chemical decades ago, the Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday.

An IBM contractor, Jack Manne Inc., is accused of dumping tetrachloroethylene, known as PCE, in the late 1960s and early 1970s from a workshop in East Fishkill, 77 miles south of Albany. PCE degrades naturally into trichloroethylene, which pollutes the groundwater.

The pollution was discovered in 2000. Since then, 103 homes have been fitted with filters to cleanse water for drinking, bathing and cooking. IBM is paying to maintain those filters.

The new water system will take 2 1/2 years to construct.

A government health assessment said people who drank tainted water from the area for many years may face a greater risk of cancer.

IBM and the EPA are still negotiating whether residents or the company will pay for the operating and maintenance costs of the water system once it's completed, EPA spokesman David Kluesner said.

A household would pay $166.44 per person annually, based on EPA estimates.