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 2,353 monitoring wells and 93 extraction wells in place at its current and former locations.

In 2016, IBM’s remediation wells extracted approximately 13,500 pounds of solvents from past contamination at four currently operating IBM locations and 14 former IBM locations in three countries. At six of these locations, an additional 3,406 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 U.S. 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 parties that may have sent waste or otherwise contributed to contamination at third-party-owned sites, regardless of whether the sites and the shipments of waste to those sites were in compliance with environmental laws at the time. As of year-end 2016, 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 U.S. 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 18 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 Dec. 31, 2016, the total amount accrued for all such environmental liabilities and associated activities was $272 million.

Download the 2016 report