Tuesday, April 12, 2016

5068 Bldg. 025

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jen White: "We'll export democracy so flipping far we'll have to leave the country to find it."


Last trip up river, my daffodils were just getting started, so I figured by now they'd be in full glory, so this weekend I made sure I took the camera.  It was pretty sad.  They'd had snow sometime last week, and the daffodils were devastated.  All lying down every which way, broken stems, they looked like a bulldozer had run over them.  Poor things.

But since I had the camera anyway, on the way home I went past the old IBM Kingston campus.  I'd heard Building 025 was being demolished, had driven by it on my previous trip but didn't have a camera then.  (My phone is an old flip clamshell.  It does take very bad photos, but I can't then get them off the phone.)

Here's what's left of Building 025:

The pile is much larger than the photo shows.  We're looking at the northwestern corner of the heap.  It extends a lot farther to the south and east.  What amazed me is that the heap of rubble is as large as the footprint of the building, and about a story high.  Which seems like a lot of rubble for  building that started out three stories high.

This is what it used to look like, seen from the parking lot, southeast corner:
I forget whether it was an "L" or "T" shape.  "T", I think.  It was one of the newest buildings, built in 1982ish.  My product area moved into the building in 1983, I think.  That's where I met Jay.  It was nice inside.  As with many IBM buildings of that era, there were no offices with windows.  None.  All the offices were on interior aisles, so although you didn't have a window, as you moved around inside, you could always see outside.

The building was occupied only until about 1995ish (I'm foggy on the exact date) when IBM, after having fired or retired about 11,000 people in the Kingston and Poughkeepsie plants, consolidated what was left in Poughkeepsie, and sold this campus to a developer who had grand plans.  Poor guy.  He's been unable to sell any of the buildings, and has tenants in a few, but even that hasn't worked out all that well.  Building 025 has office space for 200-400 people, but there's nothing in this area that needs that much.  BOA used it seasonally for processing NY tax returns, but that was for only a few years.  Mostly, it's been empty.  Not just this building, the whole complex.  So now they're demolishing it, this one being the first of five or six buildings that will disappear this year.  I guess the guy thinks he might have better luck with naked land.

The other buildings to be demolished are all much older.  Most people writing articles seem surprised, because this one is still in good shape.  Those of us who worked in that building since the construction are breathing a quiet sigh of relief. 

There was something very wrong with that building.

Shortly after we moved in, people started complaining.  Unfortunately, the complaints were vague and individual.  Some skin problems here, digestive problems there, breathing problems, vague weakness, inability to sleep.  Nothing specific, but a lot of people claimed they felt much better when they left the building.  Finally IBM brought in some environmental firm that tested the air and so on, and found no problems.  

After two years or so, people started getting seriously ill.  Bone cancer.  Brain cancer.  Serious endocrine problems.  Pancreatitis. All kinds of weird things.  Again, IBM had some group look at it.  They decided that it was just a statistical anomaly.  A "pocket."  What management offered us as "proof" was that many of the cancers and conditions were not of a variety that happens suddenly -- they take time to develop, and we hadn't been in the building long enough.

This was never considered back then, not that I know of, anyway, but I now wonder if it might have been magnetic/electrical, EMFs or something.  Almost the entire second floor was a computer raised floor, many mainframes and large peripherals, and we worked directly over and under them.  If something was wired wrong, or not properly shielded, heck I don't know the terms, but what if?  Is that possible?

(No, I don't think Jay's brain cancer was due to the building.  He had been out of the building for four years when it hit, and his was a very fast, very aggressive, tumor.)

So, those of us who know the building are not sorry to see it go.


rockygrace said...

IBM - Known locally as "I've Been Moved" - has a sordid history with this sort of thing: http://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/2015/10/04/ibm-plans-new-tests-tce-exposure-endicott/73217268/

Becs said...

I recently read Toms River by Dan Fagin. Toms River is in southern Jersey and there were many children and adult who developed leukemia. Ciba (now known as Novartis) was once a dye manufacturer, a process known in the 1880s for causing bladder cancer in its workers. The mothers in the 1950s and 1960s who drank the water there exposed their children to the various carcinogens. In the end, the research done there essential created the US EPA and Superfund sites. Ciba kept giving excuses while they handed over millions of dollars to lawyers (the guy who won "A Civil Case") and parents of the dead or ill children. Still, they got away with it.

I had an interview scheduled with Novartis last September. I'm glad I called it off.