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EPA Cracks Down on Dozens of Area Dry Cleaners; Agency Cites 11 Dry Cleaners in New Jersey Seeking More than $17,000 in Fines

Release Date: 02/22/2002
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(#02008) New York, New York – Many dry cleaners continue to violate environmental law despite efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to educate facilities about the requirements; and now more than two dozen dry cleaners face penalties, EPA announced today. Of 25 dry cleaners in New York and New Jersey recently cited, 11 are located in New Jersey. EPA is proposing a total of $37,850 in fines, with $17,100 against New Jersey dry cleaners. The fines vary depending on the severity of the violations, the size of the dry cleaners based on perchloroethylene purchases and whether the facility is a repeat violator.

“These regulations have been in place for years, but some dry cleaners continue to ignore them, potentially exposing people to toxic air pollutants used in the dry cleaning process.” Jane Kenny, EPA Region 2 Administrator. “EPA is cracking down on dry cleaners that continue to ignore the rules. On the other hand, we are very willing to work cooperatively with any dry cleaner that comes to us seeking help in complying.”

In September 1993, EPA issued regulations under the federal Clean Air Act to control air pollution from the estimated 30,000 dry cleaners that use perchloroethylene, commonly called “perc”. Dry cleaners are the major source of perc, a suspected carcinogen that can also cause short-term health effects such as respiratory distress and sore throats. Generally, dry cleaners must inspect equipment regularly to look for leaks, repair any leaks detected, keep records of the inspections, follow good housekeeping practices, operate all equipment according to manufacturer’s instructions and keep records of the amount of perc purchased each year.

Because most dry cleaners are small businesses, which often have more difficulty meeting federal regulations than larger firms, EPA instituted a program to help them comply with the dry cleaning regulations. Officials from EPA’s Region 2 office in New York City have visited hundreds of dry cleaners since the late 1990's. During these visits, EPA distributed literature written in both English and Korean explaining the dry cleaner regulations in plain language. EPA also offered to review each facility’s operations and to grant temporary amnesty from penalties to give each dry cleaner ample time to come into compliance. Most dry cleaners have declined this offer. Nearly 100% of those that were given assistance were out of compliance. The EPA continues to offer assistance to dry cleaners that make an effort to comply.

New Jersey Facilities Cited:

Commuter Cleaners in Linden, New Jersey was cited for not inspecting dry cleaning equipment for leaks or keeping inspection logs, not measuring temperature on the outlet side of the refrigerated condenser, not keeping logs of temperature measurements and not keeping logs of monthly and yearly consumption of perc. EPA has proposed a fine of $1,400 for these violations.

D&A Cleaners in Merchantville, New Jersey was cited for failing to inspect equipment for leaks and keep records of these inspections, not keeping receipts from perc purchases and not keeping records of monthly or yearly consumption of perc, not measuring the temperature of the refrigerated condenser on the outlet side, not keeping records of the temperature measurements and not properly comparing the temperature of the air and perc mixture going into the condenser with that of the stream coming out of the condenser to ensure that the condenser is operating properly. The Agency has proposed a $3,800 fine for these violations.

Fort Dix- U.S. Army Training Center (Building 5411) in Fort Dix, New Jersey was cited for failing to measure and log temperature readings for the refrigerated condenser, failing to inspect and record inspections of the dry cleaning system on a weekly basis and failing to properly adjust dry cleaning equipment. The Agency has proposed $1,300 in penalties for the violations.

Four Seasons Cleaners in Pennsauken, New Jersey was cited for failing to inspect its dry cleaning equipment for leaks and keep inspection records, failing to measure and record the temperature on the outlet side of the refrigeration condenser, failing to keep the temperature at or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and failing to make necessary adjustments or repairs to their equipment. The Agency is proposing a $1,600 penalty for these violations.

King’s Grant Cleaners in Pennsauken, New Jersey was cited for not inspecting equipment and not keeping records of inspections, not measuring the temperature on the outlet side of the refrigerated condenser and not keeping records of the temperature, not keeping receipts and logs of perc purchases, perc used each month and consumed each year and not comparing the temperature of the air and perc mixture going into the condenser with that of the stream coming out of the condenser to ensure that the condenser is operating properly. The Agency has proposed a $1,900 penalty for these violations.

Marano’s Cleaners in Pennsauken, New Jersey was cited for failing to keep receipts and records of perc that is purchased each month and the amount consumed each year, failing to keep leak inspection records and failing to keep records on site for five years of temperature monitoring results on the outlet side of the refrigerated condenser. The owner informed EPA that a contractor had already been contacted to repair its machine. After asking for follow up information from the owner, EPA determined that the owner failed to report the leak and failed to keep records of any repair. EPA is proposing a $1,200 penalty for the violations.

Marshall’s Cleaners in Rahway, New Jersey was cited for failing to properly adjust its equipment, failing to keep records of equipment inspections and record temperature readings for the facility’s refrigerated condenser. EPA has proposed a $700 fine for the violations.

Pacific Cleaners in Newark, New Jersey was cited for not inspecting equipment for leaks, not keeping inspection records and not keeping receipts and records for the amount of perc purchased and consumed each year. EPA has proposed a $1,100 fine for the violations.

Son’s Quality One Hour Dry Cleaners in Pennsauken, New Jersey was cited for not inspecting dry cleaning equipment and for not keeping records of inspections. The Agency has proposed a $500 fine for the violations.

Sonny’s Cleaners in Newark, New Jersey was cited for failing to inspect its dry cleaning equipment for leaks on at least a weekly basis and failing to keep records of inspections, failing to keep receipts and logs of perc purchases and monthly and yearly perc consumption. EPA has proposed a $2,200 fine for the violations.

The Dry Cleaner in Westmont, New Jersey was cited for failing to inspect dry cleaning equipment and failing to keep inspection records, failing to measure the temperature on the outlet side of the refrigerated condenser, failing to record these temperature measurements and failing to keep records of monthly and yearly consumption of perc. The Agency has proposed a $1,400 fine for these violations.

In addition to actions announced today, EPA has cited 114 dry cleaners in New York and New Jersey, the most in any region of the country. For more information about regulations governing dry cleaner emissions, go to the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/ttnsbap1/dryclean.html. Dry cleaners that have questions about whether they are in compliance should contact Ronald Lockwood at 212-637-3413. For press release detailing cases against dry cleaners in Long Island and New York City, go to http://www.epa.gov/region02/news/