ENVIRONMENTAL LAW BULLETIN
September 30, 2016
MANDATORY CESSATION OF PERC DRY CLEANING EQUIPMENT
LOCATED IN BUILDINGS WITH RESIDENTIAL USE BY DECEMBER 21, 2020.
Today, the NJDEP issued a compliance advisory reminding the public about the federal regulation that requires all perchloro-ethylene (“PERC”) dry cleaning equipment located at co-residential locations to cease operations by December 21, 2020. See 40 CFR Part 63.322(o)(5). Regardless of whether the dry cleaner is in compliance, all PERC dry cleaning activities must cease by this deadline. The rationale for this regulation is clear, PERC dry cleaning operations have routinely been the source of contamination to the soil, groundwater and indoor air at properties located across the country. PERC is a highly regulated chemical due to its physical properties (denser than water – so it sinks) and chemical properties (a known carcinogen). Due to the volatile nature of PERC, it offers a significant potential for vapors to migrate through the subsurface adversely impacting the indoor air quality of effected buildings. In the context where a dry cleaner and residence are located in the same building, the risk to the occupants is much greater. Further, depending on various factors present at each location, such as the type of soil, depth to groundwater, building construction, etc., these types of cleanups can be very expensive. Therefore, the prohibition of these types of dry cleaners makes sense considering the ultimate goal to protect human health and safety, as well as the environment.
If you own property where a dry cleaner is co-located with residences or operate such a facility, the time has come to think about your options. It is clear that these operations must cease, but getting out in front of the issue should be considered now. The leases should be reviewed to evaluate insurance provisions, responsibility for repair/replacement of this equipment, responsibility for environmental impact, etc. We have been successful in obtaining environmental insurance to cover the environmental risks associated with cleanup costs, property damage and third party claims for properties where dry cleaners have previously existed.
The NJDEP Compliance Advisory Update can be found at: http://www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/advisories/2016-10.pdf