TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is dedicating $5 million to funding grants for drycleaners who wish to upgrade to new equipment and cut perchloroethylene emissions.
Won in a lawsuit against three Midwestern utilities whose emissions reached New Jersey airspace, the money will help plants using perc replace or upgrade their equipment to "greener" technologies, DEP says. Approximately 1,700 perc machines are in use in the state today.
The grants will reimburse operators for costs incurred in removing or upgrading perc systems less than 15 years old. Operators seeking a grant can choose to replace a perc system with a hydrocarbon or professional wetcleaning system; replace a third-generation perc system with a fourth-generation perc system; or remove a fourth-generation perc system from a co-residential facility without installing any new equipment.
DEP expects the average grant to be about $25,000, and is offering an additional $15,000 for operations wishing to purchase professional wetcleaning machinery in addition to a perc replacement. Businesses located in residential neighborhoods and near day-care centers will be given priority, the agency says.
In 2005, DEP proposed the strict regulation and elimination of perc use in drycleaning, but pulled back on the proposal due to the projected costs to small businesses. The agency expects the new grant program to cut perc emissions by up to 450 tons per year.
Since announcing the program last week, DEP has received 26 grant applications and has approved 23. For more information, click here.