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EPA Settlement with Dry Cleaner on St. Thomas Pushes Business into the Here and Now

Release Date: 03/05/2007
Contact Information: Rich Cahill, 212-637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov; Jim Casey, 340-714-2333, casey.jim@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) In a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the owner of the largest laundry and dry cleaning operation in the U.S. Virgin Islands agreed to revamp operations to ultimately eliminate the use of a hazardous chemical at the facility in Charlotte Amalie. The owner of Island Laundries Ltd. on St. Thomas will also pay a penalty of $10,000 for past violations of federal rules requiring him to identify and properly handle and dispose of hazardous waste. Under the terms of the agreement, McCoy Webster, who is also the operator, agreed to permanently switch to less toxic solvents for dry-cleaning and will spend at least $20,000 to replace and upgrade equipment at the facility.

“We are changing the way dry cleaners operate on the islands,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Using these new environmentally-friendly systems benefits the delicate ecology of the Virgin Islands and may be good for the bottom line as well.”

On September 8, 2004, EPA inspected the Island Laundries facility for compliance with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, which govern how business must handle hazardous waste. The Agency determined that the facility failed to properly designate wastes as hazardous wastes; stored and treated or disposed of its hazardous wastes without a permit; and failed to minimize the possibility of hazardous waste releases into the environment by mishandling the wastes. Releases of these materials can cause respiratory problems for workers, contaminate ground water and seriously damage marine environments. For more information about hazardous waste visit: http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazwaste.htm

The facility also improperly handled fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury. Mercury can be released into the environment when fluorescent bulbs are crushed during disposal. Fluorescent light bulbs can and 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) 733-4489.

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