MODESTO, Calif. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is suing the former landlords of a Modesto drycleaning operation to recover $9 million in expenses it says was pent cleaning up perchloroethylene contamination in the city’s groundwater, according to a recent story in the Modesto Bee.
Filed in March, the lawsuit asks that three families involved with the operation, Halford’s Cleaners, turn over their financial records to reveal how much they could contribute to cleanup. EPA also asked the court to levy fines of up to $32,500 per day for ignoring a similar request made in 2005.
The EPA's lawsuit is separate from a lawsuit filed by the city of Modesto against dozens of drycleaning operations and suppliers in 1998. A jury ordered the defendants in that case to pay the city $178 million for cleanup of the city’s groundwater in 2006, but damages were ultimately reduced to $12.7 million. The ruling is being appealed.
EPA began groundwater treatment at Halford’s site in 2000, and its involvement with the long-running Modesto cleanup is limited to that site. The agency filed claims against the landlords of the property and the relatives of Shantalil Jamnadas, who operated the business from 1974 until his death in 2002.