Dry Cleaner Sites

Perchloroethene or “perc” is a solvent used by dry cleaners. While perc is great for cleaning clothes, it is also a carcinogen and thus is regulated under the rules for hazardous waste. In the past 20 years, the dry-cleaning industry, regulators and consultants have discovered that perc is a common contaminant in soil and groundwater at dry cleaners, especially those that have been in operation for a long time. Prior to regulations for handling of perc and other hazardous wastes, it was not unusual for liquid wastes such as waste perc and contact water from dry cleaning to be discarded onto the ground or pavement at the back of the facility, or into the dumpster. In addition, the industry has discovered that perc can travel slowly, over the years, through the permeable concrete-slab floor of a dry cleaner. Both actions can adversely affect soil and groundwater adjacent to and beneath dry cleaners.

In North Carolina, the Dry Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act (DSCA) established a fund to pay for assessments and remediation at dry cleaners. The NCDENR operates a program whereby they contract with consultants to conduct assessment and remediation at dry cleaners on their behalf. DSCA compliance staff oversees operations at dry cleaners to determine compliance with the minimum management practices established for dry cleaners, and for cleaners that use perc, the hazardous-waste regulations and the NESHAPS regulations. Compliance with these regulations is required for an active dry cleaner to be eligible for entry into the DSCA assessment and remediation program.

Duncklee & Dunham has experience conducting assessments at dry cleaners. Rick Kolb was the program manager from 2005-2009 for the DSCA contract with his previous employer. As program manager, he was involved in dry-cleaner sites across the state that were assigned to his company, and was the point of contact for his company with DSCA staff. In addition, Mr. Kolb was project manager for those sites DSCA assigned to his office. He worked with DSCA staff to establish work plans for those sites, managed the field work conducted by his co-workers, and conducted senior review of proposals and reports.

Mr. Kolb has conducted compliance assessments at existing dry cleaners that use both chlorinated and petroleum-based solvents. He is familiar with the regulations that apply to dry cleaners and the systems they use for dry cleaning. Generally he conducts these assessments on a periodic basis for the owners of the shopping centers in which the cleaners are located. It is in the owners’ interest to be certain their tenants are in compliance with regulations for dry cleaners so that DSCA funds will be available to pay for assessment and remediation, if necessary. The DSCA program encourages property owners to co-apply with their tenant for entry into the DSCA program.