Are dry cleaners airing their dirty laundry to the environment?

Approximately 35,000 retail dry cleaners operate in the United States, generating large amounts of waste averaging 660 gallons per year per active facility. Historically, present and former dry cleaners have released chemicals accidentally or even intentionally into the soil and groundwater. Because of this, many retail property owners refuse to lease to dry cleaners with on-site cleaning equipment.
Whether it is intentionally or by accident, some operators have released waste dry cleaning solvents like Perchloroethylene into stormwater drains or into landscaping. Many unintentionally released chemicals have occurred from leaking sewer lines that flow into wastewater treatment plants. Property owners often end up responsible for cleanup from the leaking sewer lines even when not on the property. Many dry cleaners discontinue operations because of a lack of funding to cover the remediation costs. In addition to remediation costs, dry cleaner owners or operators may be liable for contaminating other properties in the area.

Environmental Dry Cleaner Tip:

Even though modern-day dry cleaners use much less or more environmentally favorable solvents and better equipment that is less likely to leak, lack of maintenance and proper operational practices can still result in chemical releases into the environment. Secondary contaminants for chemical storage and equipment areas should be used as well as solvent-grade epoxy floor coatings in the treatment and equipment areas.