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Toxic TownIBM, Pollution, and Industrial Risks$
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Peter C. Little

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814760697

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814760697.001.0001

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Down in Big Blue’s Toxic Plume in Upstate New York

Down in Big Blue’s Toxic Plume in Upstate New York

(p.1) 1 Down in Big Blue’s Toxic Plume in Upstate New York
Toxic Town

Peter C. Little

NYU Press

This chapter explores peoples' understandings of, negotiations with, and reactions to high-tech industrial pollution in Endicott, New York, the “birthplace” of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). Decades of chipboard manufacturing led to an increase of trichloroethylene (TCE) in an area locally referred to as “the plume”—a 300-acre toxic plume filled with TCE, a cancer-causing chlorine cleaning solvent heavily used by the company. IBM's contamination of Endicott and how the local residents are affected calls for a perspective on socio-environmental experience that discerns the tangle of social, political, economic, and scientific forces shaping situations and events of technological disaster. In many ways, the struggle of residents living in the IBM–Endicott plume is also a response to transformations in the political economy and ecology of the late twentieth century and the early twenty-first century.

Keywords:   industrial pollution, Endicott, International Business Machines Corporation, chipboard manufacturing, trichloroethylene, toxic plume, cancer, chlorine cleaning solvent

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