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EPA Stops Hazardous Waste Violations At Christiansted Dry Cleaners

Release Date: 05/24/2006
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(NEW YORK, N.Y.) In a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the owner of Tropical Cleaners and Launderers in Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands pledged to comply with federal rules for identifying, handling and disposing of hazardous waste at the facility. EPA cited the dry cleaner for burning hazardous waste in the backyard of the store, among other violations. Under the terms of the agreement, the owner, Krisendat Bhola, will comply with federal regulations, pay a fine and go above and beyond compliance by installing in the next two months a closed-loop system designed to recapture solvents used in dry-cleaning within few months.

“Not only have we stopped the potentially dangerous practices at this dry cleaner, they’ve agreed to put in a system that is very environmentally-friendly,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “I think they’ll also find, in the long run, that the new, more efficient system will be good for the pocket book too.”

In September 2005, EPA cited the facility for failing to identify its solvent wastes as hazardous wastes; storing and disposing of its hazardous wastes without a permit; and failing to minimize the threat of a fire or release of hazardous waste into the environment. EPA based its allegations on an inspection it conducted in September 2004. Under the settlement announced today, the owner will pay a $5,000 penalty and is required to comply with rules for the proper handling and disposal of hazardous wastes. In addition, Tropical Cleaners and Launderers will undertake a Supplemental Environmental Project and spend at least $55,000 for equipment upgrades at the facility, including the closed-loop system, and permanently switch to less toxic and flammable solvents for dry-cleaning. EPA’s Supplemental Environmental Projects policy allows a violator of EPA regulations to offset part of a proposed penalty by conducting projects that the agency deems beneficial to the environment.

EPA also cited the facility for improperly handling and disposing of fluorescent light bulbs, which contain the known neurotoxin mercury. Mercury can be released into the environment when fluorescent bulbs are crushed during disposal. Fluorescent light bulbs should be recycled. As part of the agreement, the owner will no longer discard fluorescent light bulbs in the municipal trash.

For more information on the proper disposal of mercury-containing bulbs in the U.S. Virgin Islands contact John Green, Director of Environmental Programs, Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority at (340) 773-4489. For more information about hazardous waste visit: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/hazwaste.htm

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