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EPA Cracks Down on Dozens of Area Dry Cleaners; Agency Cites 5 Dry Cleaners on Long Island Seeking More than $7,000 in Fines

Release Date: 02/22/2002
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(#02009) New York, New York – Many dry cleaners continue to violate environmental law despite efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to educate facilities about the requirements; and now more than two dozen dry cleaners face penalties, EPA announced today. Of 25 dry cleaners in New York and New Jersey recently cited, five are located on Long Island. EPA is proposing a total of $37,850 in fines, with $6,100 in fines against dry cleaners on Long Island . The fines proposed vary depending on the severity of the violations, the size of the dry cleaners based on perchloroethylene purchases and whether the facility is a repeat violator.

These regulations have been in place for years, but some dry cleaners continue to ignore them, potentially exposing people to toxic air pollutants used in the dry cleaning process.” Jane Kenny, EPA Region 2 Administrator. “EPA is cracking down on dry cleaners that continue to ignore the rules. On the other hand, we are very willing to work cooperatively with any dry cleaner that comes to us seeking help in complying.”

In September 1993, EPA issued regulations under the federal Clean Air Act to control air pollution from the estimated 30,000 dry cleaners that use perchloroethylene, commonly called “perc”. Dry cleaners are the major source of perc, a suspected carcinogen that can also cause short-term health effects such as respiratory distress and sore throats. Generally, dry cleaners must inspect equipment regularly to look for leaks, repair any leaks detected, keep records of the inspections, follow good housekeeping practices, operate all equipment according to manufacturer’s instructions and keep records of the amount of perc purchased each year.

Because most dry cleaners are small businesses, which often have more difficulty meeting federal regulations than larger firms, EPA instituted a program to help them comply with the dry cleaning regulations. Officials from EPA’s Region 2 office in New York City have visited hundreds of dry cleaners since the late 1990's. During these visits, EPA distributed literature written in both English and Korean explaining the dry cleaner regulations in plain language. EPA also offered to review each facility’s operations and to grant temporary amnesty from penalties to give each dry cleaner ample time to come into compliance. Most dry cleaners have declined this offer. Nearly 100% of those that were given assistance were out of compliance. The EPA continues to offer assistance to dry cleaners that make an effort to comply.

Dry Cleaners cited on Long Island:

Pamper Cleaners Launderers in Hicksville, New York was cited for failing to keep records of inspections performed on dry cleaning equipment, temperature readings taken on the outlet side of the refrigerated condenser, and amount of perc purchased and consumed on a monthly and yearly basis. EPA has proposed a $1,000 fine for the violations.

Post Cleaners in Westbury, New York was cited for failing to monitor the temperature on the outlet side of the refrigerated condenser, failing to keep proper records of equipment inspections, temperature readings, monthly purchases of perc and yearly consumption of perc. The Agency is seeking $2,600 in penalties for the violations.

Gilbert Cleaners in Carle Place, New York was cited for not keeping proper logs of equipment inspections and purchases and consumption of perc. EPA is proposing an $800 penalty for the violations.

R & J Cleaners in Hicksville, New York was cited for failing to inspect dry cleaning equipment and keep records of the inspections and failing to keep receipts for perc purchases and log monthly and yearly purchases and consumption. EPA is seeking a $1,100 fine for the violations.

Chen Brothers Cleaners in Carle Place, New York was cited because it did not repair a broken temperature gauge on the outlet side of its refrigerated condenser for more than a month. The Agency is proposing a $600 fine for the violation..

In addition to actions announced today, EPA has cited 114 dry cleaners in New York and New Jersey, the most in any region of the country. For more information about regulations governing dry cleaner emissions, go to the EPA Web site at Dry cleaners that have questions about whether they are in compliance should contact Ronald Lockwood at 212-637-3413. For press release detailing cases against dry cleaners in New Jersey and New York City, go to