When groundwater contamination was first discovered at one of IBM’s sites in 1977, the company voluntarily initiated groundwater monitoring at all of its manufacturing and development locations worldwide. Today, IBM has 2,609 monitoring wells and 104 extraction wells in place at its current and former locations.
In 2014, IBM’s remediation wells extracted approximately 16,100 pounds of solvents from past contamination at six currently operating IBM locations and 12 former IBM locations in three countries. At six of these locations, an additional 1,915 pounds of solvents were removed by soil vapor extraction or other methods. IBM also has financial responsibility for remediation at two additional former locations.
Under the US Superfund law, IBM is involved in cleanup operations at some non-IBM sites in the United States. The Superfund law creates retroactive responsibility for all the parties that may have sent waste or otherwise contributed to contamination at third-party-owned sites, regardless of whether those sites were complying with environmental laws at the time. As of year-end 2014, IBM had received notification (through federal, state or private parties) of its potential liability at 114 such sites since the beginning of the Superfund program in 1980. Of these, 63 are on the US National Priority List. At most of the 114 sites, IBM has either resolved its liability or has proven it has no outstanding liability. Currently, IBM is actively participating in a cleanup or otherwise managing its potential liability at only 17 Superfund sites.
When environmental investigation and/or remediation at a current or former IBM location or a non-IBM facility is probable, and the costs for future activities can be reasonably estimated, IBM establishes financial accruals for loss contingency. IBM accrues for estimated costs associated with closure activities (such as removing and restoring chemical storage facilities), when IBM decides to close a facility. As of December 31, 2014, the total accrual amount for all such environmental liabilities and associated activities was $254 million.