PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has cited six Portland-area drycleaners for improper monitoring of equipment and hazardous wastes, hitting them with penalties for air- and water-quality violations.
Violations included the lax monitoring and testing of equipment than can leak hazardous air pollutants, failing to submit required reports and documentation, and in one case, discharging hazardous waste into a sewer. The penalties stem from inspections and records reviews conducted by DEQ in 2007 and early 2008.
The penalties arose from a 2006 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used to provide training and perchloroethylene leak-detection equipment for Oregon drycleaners . Drycleaners were asked to report on the results from the detectors, but reviews conducted last year and earlier this year led to findings that many businesses were not complying.
“The [agency’s] drycleaning program has done a lot of outreach,” Sarah Greenley, a DEQ environmental law specialist, told the Portland Tribune. “As a result of that outreach, some people have come into compliance and some haven’t.”
Of the six drycleaners issued fines in June, Ford Cleaner & Laundry received the highest fines, totaling $15,606 for failing to monitor perchloroethylene, failing to file reports and discharging drycleaning solvent into a sanitary sewer system. B&F Cleaners was fined $3,844 for failing to conduct weekly inspections of its drycleaning system and for failing to send in its yearly compliance report. Independent Cleaners was fined $5,466 for failing to conduct weekly inspections and failing to submit an annual report. Royal Cleaners was fined $5,916 for failing to conduct weekly inspections and failing to submit an annual report. Speedy Dry Cleaners was fined $5,466 for failing to conduct weekly inspections and failing to submit an annual report. And Coin Laun-Dry was fined $5,020 for failing to conduct weekly inspections.
According to DEQ, B&F Cleaners, Independent Cleaners and Speedy Dry Cleaners have filed appeals.
Greenley told the Portland Tribune that the businesses were given a warning letter last October, as well as a second warning in January. Those that did not respond with proof of compliance faced fines. Some of the businesses may yet come forth with documentation of compliance, which could lead to reduced penalties.
So far in 2008, DEQ has issued 119 penalties totaling $890,834. That compares to 102 penalties totaling $1.2 million for the same period a year ago.