Conference Call Minutes from August 24, 1998

CLU-IN: Dry Cleaners Remediation Project Conference Call: August 24, 1998

State Dry Cleaners Remediation Project
Conference Call

August 24, 1998

State Representatives

John Kelley, Illinois
Leo Henning, Kansas
Dale Trippler and Kären Kromar, Minnesota
Jack Butler and Bruce Nicholson, North Carolina
Dick Dezeeuw, David Anderson, Joe Mollusky and Kevin Parrett, Oregon
Steve Goins, Tennessee
Tim Steele and Lowell Carty, Arizona
Robin Schmidt, Wisconsin
Bill Burns, Florida
Craig Dukes, Amy Hafer and John Cresswell, South Carolina

Carolyn Perroni and Peter Riddle from Environmental Management Support, Inc. (EMS), participated in the conference call, along with Susan Brager Murphy from Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG).


Rich Steimle, the facilitator, was absent so Carolyn Perroni (EMS) moderated the call. Participants followed the agenda e-mailed to them by ERG on August 20, 1998.

Web Site Discussion

Peter Riddle began by stating that he thought the proposed Web site would act as a repository for links to other Web sites. Someone questioned whether or not it would be possible to create a Web site that contained all the other dry cleaner Web sites in their entirety. Riddle replied that such a Web site would require too much updating and maintenance to be practical. Perroni asked participants to e-mail Riddle ( the addresses of Web sites with dry-cleaning site information. It was pointed out that the Dry Cleaners Remediation Project Web site could also have links to statute Web sites. Riddle asked participants whether they wanted the Web site to be under TIO (U.S. EPA, Technology Innovation Office) or independent of TIO. No one had any preferences. Susan Brager Murphy offered to send the list of Web sites, that had been provided to Rich Steimle by John Kelley, to Perroni.

Presentation by the State of Wisconsin

Robin Schmidt, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau for Remediation and Redevelopment

Robin Schmidt opened by stating that she was interested in having a face-to-face meeting with Project participants. The meeting could take place during a conference that Project participants might already be attending. Several participants mentioned various conferences held around the country that could serve as convenient meeting spots. Bill Burns mentioned that he met with some people after the RCRA conference last year in Milwaukee. In addition, there was a Superfund managers meeting last year in Washington, DC. Dick Dezeeuw said that the dry cleaners have a biennial show. The next show is scheduled for August 1999 in Orlando, Florida. There was some interest in meeting at this conference. Perroni mentioned that information could be collected on applicable conferences. Murphy said that Steimle might be supporting a face-to-face meeting that ERG would help coordinate.

Schmidt stated that Wisconsin currently has a 1.8 percent fee on dry cleaners, similar to what other states have. The annual revenue brought in is less than $2 million. The maximum amount of money that can be spent per site is $500,000. Schmidt said that Wisconsin is currently facing two problems:

  1. The first organizations to receive funds under the current statute are sites that were recognized between 1991 and 1997. New sites cannot be funded until these older ones have been cleaned up. Schmidt said her organization hopes to get a new statute in place that will allow half the money to go to old sites and half to new ones.
  2. The second problem deals with a provision in the statute that calls for interim remedial measures. The maximum reimbursement for such measures is $15,000. These measures (air blowing, venting, passive remediation) proceed at sites until sufficient funds exist to perform a complete investigation. It may be 5 to 10 years before complete site investigations occur. The problem with these interim measures is that the situation at some sites might worsen over time even with the interim remedial measures in place. The industry is pushing for this sort of remediation, claiming that inexpensive measures could clean up 80 percent of the sites. Schmidt, on the other hand, estimates that only 25 percent of the sites could benefit from such remedial measures. She believes that approximately half of the sites have ground water contamination and many contain substances that do not readily biodegrade. Schmidt said that she had been told that Florida had an interim remedial system, but later found that information to be false.

Participants briefly discussed the differences between passive and active remediation. One participant said that air sparging is not passive remediation. Natural attenuation, on the other hand, is a form of passive remediation. Natural attenuation can only be used as a remedial measure under certain conditions and generally takes a long period of time.

Steve Goins asked Schmidt about liability protection. Schmidt responded by saying that dry cleaners do not have liability protection until they perform the cleanup. Goins stated that the program in Tennessee treats liability protection as the first priority and remediation as the second. He suggested that Wisconsin cover only the cost of future cleanups instead of both old and new cleanups. Someone else suggested that Wisconsin could use some funds from its state Superfund program to pay for dry cleaning sites. Schmidt replied that her program is unable to reimburse the state Superfund. Schmidt concluded by asking participants to let her know if they had any ideas about short-term interim actions.

Presentation by the State of Oregon

Dick Dezeeuw, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Dezeeuw began by stating that the emphasis in Oregon is on the prevention of contamination, as well as cleanup. He described the basic structure of the program. Part of the program requires the dry cleaning industry to adhere to certain waste management standards. The industry has promised to be a zero release industry and to make a minimum payment of $1 million a year to the program. In exchange the program allows individual companies to join voluntarily.

One problem with the program is that Oregon is not getting the funds it thought it would receive. The state's initial estimates suggested that the fund would receive approximately $1.2 million a year from the industry. The dry cleaning industry estimated that the fund would generate $1.5 million a year. However, the fund is only raising $700,000 to $800,000 a year. The state is still upholding its end of the deal by relieving the industry of liability. Oregon is now asking the industry to follow through on its end of the deal by creating a new fee structure that will allow $1 million to be contributed annually to the program. This money is necessary for the cleanup of existing sites.

The fee structure for the program in Oregon is different from that of other states. Dry cleaners pay an annual fee of $1,000 for each facility and a use fee per gallon of solvent. The solvent fee started out with a $12 a gallon fee on perchlorethylene (PERC) and $2.40 a gallon for other solvents. The fee has grown 3 percent every year and is now at $12.73 a gallon and $2.55 a gallon, respectively. If the legal requirement to collect $1 million a year is not met by October 1, 1998, then the fee on PERC will increase by $4 a gallon. High fees on PERC can cause dry cleaners to conserve the solvent. At the same time, solvent fees can be counterproductive to the fund if they encourage dry cleaners to buy PERC from states that do not charge fees. Some of the larger dry cleaners want to eliminate the solvent fee and replace it with a standard fee of $3,000-$3,500 for each dry cleaner.

Dezeeuw also pointed out that his state is unlike Wisconsin in that it cannot reimburse people for funds that have not been pre-approved. For example, if a property owner has already used his/her own money to clean up a dry cleaning site, he/she cannot get money from the dry cleaner that contaminated the site because the dry cleaner is protected under the program.

Dezeeuw said that a couple of other problems exist. For one thing, the Oregon Department of Revenue cannot share any of its information with the program, including valuable information like a list of dry cleaners. In addition, there is no requirement that forces dry cleaners to come into compliance with the program.

Oregon has a database called the Environmental Cleanup Site Information System (ECSI) that tracks all the sites known or suspected to be contaminated in the state. The state is trying to get all 34 sites associated with dry cleaners into one of the cleanup programs. It has already been decided that one of these sites requires no further action. Twelve sites are currently applying to the dry cleaner program while seven others are being cleaned up through other programs. The following are some of the dry cleaning sites the state is tracking:

  1. One site is being cleaned up under a prospective purchaser agreement. The prospective purchaser of the site spent $100,000 on the site assessment. The state and the purchaser agreed that $140,000 would be enough to clean up the site. The prospective purchaser agreed to pay for this remediation cost as long as the purchaser would not be required to pay for any additional remediation. It was agreed that, if necessary, additional remediation funding would come from the dry cleaner program. So far, no money from the dry cleaner account has been spent.
  2. Another site is under an orphan program. This site is undergoing soil venting, ground- water pumping, and air stripping. The cleanup at this site is approximately $750,000.
  3. The biggest site required a significant soil removal, down to about 25 feet. Additional ground water remediation is necessary due to persisting DNAPL. The cleanup for this site will total around $2 million.
  4. At another site, the state is treating contaminated ground water for around $700,000.
  5. A few other sites are undergoing soil venting.

Dezeeuw said that his group has been asked to try a product called HRC by the company Regenesis. He asked if anyone was familiar with the product. Burns, from Florida, mentioned that he had experience with the product and said that it is important to perform a pilot test for the soils to be treated. He advised caution in areas with large calcium deposits because HRC will undergo reactions with calcium. Burns also mentioned that he knew of a site where soil volume was significantly reduced leading to subsidence because too much HRC was applied. Burns said the large reaction at the site was exothermic and released a lot of volatilization into the atmosphere. Dezeeuw said that Regenesis hopes to test its product out on 25 sites around the country. The company is willing to provide HRC free of charge in exchange for data.

Burns had a few thoughts concerning the diminishing revenue from PERC fees. He noted that the new generation of machines that dry cleaners are using require, much less PERC than before. He said that revenue in Florida is coming from a gross receipts tax instead of the PERC tax. Dezeeuw said that Oregon does not have a gross receipts tax or a sales tax of any kind. Burns replied that the gross receipts tax is paid by the dry cleaners so it is not a sales tax. Tailoring work and other work unrelated to the dry cleaning process is exempt from the gross receipts tax.

Barton Bill Discussion

Participants agreed that the Barton Bill (bill number 1711) basically states that the standards for PERC should be established at levels of 10 percent of the OHSA standards for both soil and non-drinking ground water for dry cleaning sites. Someone mentioned that the bill is not expected to pass. Perroni said that she would look into EPA's position on the bill. Someone mentioned that there is a dry cleaners Web site, the Corner Cleaner, that has information on the bill. There was some confusion over whether or not the Barton Bill would be able to override more stringent state statutes.

General Discussion

Participants agreed that additional conference calls should be held once every 4 to 6 weeks. Perroni said that she would talk to Steimle about having a face-to-face meeting. A representative from North Carolina asked if anyone was familiar with CO2 processes. Dukes replied that the process will cost dry cleaners around $50,000 more a year than current processes. Burns mentioned that the Florida state fire marshal disliked the idea of having high pressure equipment in retail strip malls. Henning said that he recently met with dry cleaners in Kansas who said that they were not interested in using the process. Kelley said that he knows of one dry cleaner that ordered a CO2 machine that will be installed this fall.

Henning mentioned that Utah and New Mexico were both interested in learning more about the Dry Cleaners Remediation Project. Participants decided that Steimle should try to determine who the appropriate contacts are in the two states.

Action Items

Next Conference Call

The next conference call is scheduled for Monday, October 5, 1998 from 2:00-3:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.