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EPA Cites Dry Cleaners in Brooklyn and Queens

Release Date: 05/17/2007
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y. ) Two New York dry cleaners, one in Brooklyn and one in Queens, violated federal rules for handling hazardous waste and now they must bring their operations into compliance and face stiff fines, according to complaints issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). W.H. Christian and Sons, on Banker Street in Brooklyn, and Jetomi Cleaners, Inc. (operating as “Queens Bridge Cleaners”) in Long Island City both mishandled wastes related to dry cleaning chemicals called tetrachloroethylene or “perc” and in one case improperly disposed of waste Perc and spent fluorescent lamps, which may contain harmful mercury.

“Perc is a serious chemical that can have effects on people’s health,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “That’s why EPA has made a concerted effort to reach out to and educate dry cleaners and why now it is imperative that we take tough actions against those that refuse to handle their ‘perc’ waste properly.”

With nearly 5,000 dry cleaners operating in New York State alone and despite substantial EPA compliance assistance outreach efforts and aggressive enforcement actions against dry cleaning establishments, the Agency continues to see too many dry cleaners operating in violation of the rules. EPA identified violations at these two facilities during regular inspections that it conducts throughout the city to gauge dry cleaners’ compliance with federal hazardous waste law. Based on those inspections, EPA issued a complaint to W.H. Christian and Sons in Brooklyn for improperly storing hazardous wastes with a penalty of $18,525. The Agency is in negotiations with the company on a final Order of Compliance. EPA also issued a complaint against Jetomi Cleaners in Queens proposing a $35,098 fine for failing to identify hazardous wastes, storing hazardous waste without a permit, and failing to properly complete records documenting shipments of hazardous waste. In addition, EPA found that spent fluorescent light bulbs, which may contain the known neurotoxin mercury, were being improperly handled and disposed of by Jetomi Cleaners. Mercury can be released into the environment when fluorescent bulbs are crushed during disposal.

For more information about hazardous waste handling requirements visit: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/hazwaste.htm

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