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EPA Investigates Former Dry Cleaning Site in Morristown

Release Date: 05/05/2006
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(NEW YORK, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently investigating whether vapors from dry cleaning chemicals that have seeped into the ground and into the ground water below the former VIP Cleaners facility in Morristown, New Jersey are entering homes or businesses in the area. In order to assess the problem, EPA has taken samples under several businesses that now operate in the former dry cleaner’s building, inside nearby businesses, and under basements of nearby homes. The Agency expects results within the next month.

“Problems like this are unfortunately all too common, which is why we have initiated an assessment of facilities where vapors from volatile chemicals could be entering homes or workplaces,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “The good news is once we identify the problem, it’s relatively straight-forward to fix. We can install ventilation systems when necessary to get rid of trapped fumes.”

Dry cleaners use chemicals in their processes known as volatile organic compounds. These compounds include tetrachloroethylene (PCE), which can break down to trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE). In November 2005, EPA confirmed that these chemicals were in the ground water under the buildings and determined that the chemicals were not in any way impacting drinking water. In order to assess the potential for vapors getting into buildings, EPA will install monitoring equipment in nine residential buildings and 21 commercial buildings to measure the levels of gases in the ground below the basement floors. This will help determine whether contamination from the ground water and in the soil is at levels of concern and could affect indoor air. In addition, the agency will sample the indoor air in the VIP facility to determine if there is an existing vapor intrusion issue.

For more detailed information on EPA’s vapor intrusion sampling, visit the EPA’s Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/correctiveaction/eis/vapor/guidance.pdf

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