Conference Call Minutes from October 5, 1998

CLU-IN: State Dry Cleaners Remediation Project Conference Call, October 5, 1998

State Dry Cleaners Remediation Project
Conference Call

October 5, 1998

State Representatives

Lowell Carty Arizona

Bill Burns

Florida

John Kelley

Illinois

Leo Henning

Kansas

Dale Trippler

Minnesota
Jack Butler

North Carolina

Dick Dezeeuw

Oregon

Craig Dukes

South Carolina

Steve Goins

Tennessee

Robin Schmidt

Wisconsin

Other participants on the call included Richard Steimle from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Technology Innovation Office (TIO), Randy Deitz from the Office of Congressional Affairs, Peter Riddle and Robert Langston from Environmental Management Support, Inc. (EMS), and Susan Brager Murphy and Christine Hartnett from Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG).

Opening Remarks
Richard Steimle, EPA, TIO
Richard Steimle, the facilitator, welcomed participants to the third Dry Cleaners Remediation Project conference call. Steimle said that the conference call would follow the agenda that was E-mailed to participants on October 1, 1998. Steimle noted that minutes from the previous two calls have been compiled. Susan Brager Murphy said edits have been made to the August 24, 1998, conference call summary and that a revised version will be available soon..

Discussion of the Preliminary Dry Cleaners Remediation Project Web site
Peter Riddle, EMS
Peter Riddle said that EMS has generated a preliminary Dry Cleaners Remediation Project Web site and asked participants to comment on its usefulness. Craig Dukes said that he would prefer a full-screen format. When he visited the site, Dukes continued, the left one-third of his screen was blocked by the page's border. Riddle said the format being used is that which has been adopted for all of TIO's CLU-IN Web pages and that difficulties arise with screens that have lower than 800 by 600 resolution. Riddle said the format can be changed to a full-screen format if that is the group's preference.

Riddle asked participants for input on the topic categories that are presented on the Web site. Specifically, he asked participants whether some topics are missing or whether some separate topics should be lumped together. Conference call participants agreed that the Web site's category divisions are appropriate, but recommended adding information on:

Riddle asked participants for input on tools that should be available on the Web site. At this point, he reported, EMS has established a prototype discussion group/chat area. He asked participants whether they want this area to serve as a place where users can (1) interact and discuss topics together, or (2) post files so that others can access them. Dale Trippler voted for the latter, noting that the phone is still a better medium for actual discussion.

Riddle said EMS will gather information about soil cleanup technologies and procedures, case studies, and chemical-specific information over the next few weeks. He said the Web site will be revised before the next conference call and that he will accept additional comments during the next call. One participant recommended having the conference call participants send Riddle additional information. Riddle said it would be best to E-mail the information to him (priddle@emsus.com) or Rob Langston (rlangsto@emsus.com). (Riddle agreed to post these addresses on the opening screen of the Web site.) Riddle said he prefers to receive text in word processing files, but can translate PDF files as well.

Presentation by EPA Representative on the Barton Bill
Randy Deitz, Office of Congressional Affairs
Randy Deitz provided a brief overview of the Barton Bill (HR-1711). If passed, Deitz explained, this bill would establish a federal cleanup standard for dry cleaning solvents (e.g., PERC). Deitz said he was originally concerned that Barton would try to pass the bill before the end of the year. After speaking with Barton, however, Deitz learned that the bill will not move forward until spring 1999. Deitz said that Barton, who serves as the chair for the House Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee, has enough seniority and clout to push the bill forward. Although the bill started with only five or six cosponsors, Deitz continued, it now has the support of 50. He said Barton is advertising the bill as a common-sense regulatory relief and a small-business relief bill.

Deitz said that Barton wants EPA's opinion on the bill. Last week, Deitz continued, he and members from the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) and the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) were invited to meet with Barton and dry cleaning representatives. Deitz said the EPA representatives stated that they do not support a federal soil cleanup standard for PERC or any other dry cleaning solvents.. First, Deitz said, EPA representatives disagreed with the way that the proposed PERC soil cleanup standard was calculated, noting that soil standards can not be extrapolated from OSHA air standards (Deitz said that the proposed standard for PERC is about one-tenth of OSHA's air standard.) When Barton asked for suggestions of a more appropriate standard, Deitz continued, EPA representatives said they oppose the entire premise of the bill because they do not think national standards should be established on an industry-by-industry or a substance-by-substance basis. Doing so, Deitz explained, creates a dangerous arrangement in which each industry cuts its own best deal.

Deitz said attending the meeting gave him insight on the arguments being used to fuel the Barton Bill. According to Deitz, the dry cleaning industry representatives told Barton that PERC is fairly harmless and cited, as evidence of their claim, the fact that they themselves did not have cancer despite 20 to 30 years of exposure to the chemical. Deitz said EPA did not argue about toxicities and hazards associated with PERC, but did inform the dry cleaning representatives that OPPTS recently compiled a report summarizing known information on PERC's health effects. (The report is entitled Cleaner Technologies Substitutes Assessment for Professional Fabric Care Processes; EPA 744-B-98-001 and should be posted at http://www.epa.gov/DFE/garment/ garment.html.) Deitz said the report does not conclusively state whether PERC poses a carcinogenic or noncarcinogenic hazard, but that some evidence indicates that it is a probable carcinogen.

Deitz said that the dry cleaning representatives strongly supported the Barton Bill and regarded it as a means to protect their industry from overly stringent, and economically crippling, state soil cleanup standards. According to Deitz, the dry cleaning representatives claimed that thousands of cleanups are ongoing throughout the nation and are bankrupting many small businesses. They claimed, Deitz continued, that many states require PERC-contaminated soils to be cleaned to drinking water standards. When asked which states require such strict soil cleanup standards, Deitz reported, the dry cleaners were only able to cite two: Maryland and Texas.

Deitz said that Barton stressed that the bill would not relax state ground-water standards, but would protect the industry from overly strict state-imposed soil cleanup standards. Deitz said that he warned Barton that EPA would probably not support a bill that preempts state standards. Barton said states could still require stricter standards after the bill is passed, but that they would have to pay the cost associated with cleaning past the federal standard.

Deitz said the dry cleaning representatives wanted to wait until contaminants reached ground water before initiating treatment systems that would achieve state standards. In general, Deitz reported, the dry cleaning representatives were reluctant to acknowledge that leaving contaminants in the soil leads to ground-water contamination. Robin Schmidt said the dry cleaners at Deitz' meeting hold a somewhat different view than those in Wisconsin. While the former are de-emphasizing the importance of soil cleanup, she continued, the latter are highlighting it. She said that Wisconsin dry cleaners are anxious to avoid expensive ground-water treatment. She said several have asked for permission to install low-cost soil remediation systems in exchange for some assurance that they will not be asked to perform a ground-water cleanup.

Deitz stressed that dry cleaning representatives are claiming that state-imposed cleanup standards are causing an economic crisis for their industry. Deitz said that he fears that the "crisis" is overstated. He said he will check to make sure the dry cleaners' information was accurate so that legislation is not passed based on anecdotal horror stories. Deitz said he finds it hard to believe that so many businesses are going bankrupt and that states are requiring soils to be cleaned to drinking water standards. He was concerned that the dry cleaning representatives were using "parts per million (ppm)" and "parts per billion (ppb)" interchangeably at the meeting: some were saying they were expected to clean soils to 5 ppm and others were saying 5 ppb. Deitz stressed the importance of determining whether they are really being asked to clean soils to 5 ppb, which is the ground-water standard. Deitz said he will research the soil cleanup standards in Maryland and Texas, the two states cited as strict, as well as several other states to determine whether the dry cleaners' claims are exaggerated. Steimle said he would talk to Deitz about a survey effort off-line.

Deitz asked conference call participants for information on their state's policies and whether there have been recent trends to enforce more stringent standards for PERC-contaminated soils. Participants offered information about the following states:

Dukes and Henning warned Deitz that the conference call participants represent states that have dry cleaning cleanup funds. Without the fund in place, Henning noted, many small dry cleaning businesses could go bankrupt. As a result, Henning stressed, it is more likely that the "crisis" referred to is occurring in the 40 states that are not represented on the call. Deitz asked whether more states are planning to create a fund. One participant said there is a trend in that direction, despite the opposition of state environmental departments. Jack Butler noted that the dry cleaning industry has been pushing for the fund as a liability protection. In North Carolina, Butler continued, the fund was imposed despite loud voices of opposition.

One participant asked Deitz whether state representatives should go directly to Barton to discuss the bill. Deitz said Barton must be informed of any false or exaggerated claims that are being expressed by the dry cleaner industry. He encouraged the conference call participants to gather data on their states so that it could be presented to Barton by next spring. Trippler recommended using the Dry Cleaners Remediation Project Web site as a tool to supply Deitz with the information that he needs to fight the Barton Bill. He advised Deitz to post questions on the Web site and said that the conference call participants could funnel information to him quickly through the Web site.

One participant recommended that Deitz talk to the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) representatives for support against Barton's bill. Deitz said that Barton planned to have additional meetings with EPA before next spring and said he would keep the state representatives updated of the developments through Steimle.

Scheduling of Face-to-Face Meeting for the Group
Richard Steimle, EPA, TIO
Steimle asked the conference call participants whether they wanted to have a face-to-face meeting in the near future. He noted that TIO had decided it would be best to have conference calls before having a meeting to make sure the group shared common goals and interests.. Steimle noted that he usually does not recommend having a meeting unless something tangible (e.g., a document, an organizational chart, a position statement) can be generated at the meeting.

Conference call participants agreed that a meeting would be helpful. Trippler recommended making it a goal to finalize a product that Oregon has been working on. Trippler said the product should be made available to the entire country because it could serve as a guideline for other states.

Steimle said that all travel expenses would be paid by TIO through the National Ground-Water Association. He said the transfer of money from TIO to the National Ground-Water Association is currently in progress. He said the money can be used to pay for travel expenses and training. One participant noted that the group would benefit greatly from a training session on innovative technologies that destroy dry cleaning solvents. Schmidt agreed, but stressed that the presentations would be much more useful if they included case studies. Steimle said the National Ground-Water Association usually asks experts with recent field experience to make presentations about technologies.

Steimle said he would start working toward scheduling a meeting in Washington, D.C., during the early months of 1999. Burns said that any time before March 1 (when Florida's legislative session begins) would be fine. Steimle asked conference call participants to give input on the meeting's format and said he will work closely with ERG to plan an agenda. Steimle said that one topic that could be addressed at the meeting is whether the group wants to be legitimized and publicized in a more formal fashion.

Presentation By the State of Minnesota
Dale Trippler, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Trippler said that legislation for Minnesota's dry cleaning cleanup fund was passed in 1995. He said the fund was created, in large part, due to prompting from the dry cleaning industry. Trippler said the Department of Revenues collects fees for the fund from two sources:

Trippler said the fund currently has about $1.5 million. He said the State originally hoped to bring in $800,000 per year in fees. Unfortunately, Trippler noted, they have failed to do so in the last three years. He said that fee rates have increased over the years, but that the amount of money collected for the fund continues to decline. He said fee collection totaled $560,000, $435,000, and $400,000 in 1996, 1997, and 1998, respectively. Trippler said the decrease is likely attributable to a decline in PERC sales. Trippler said the State is approaching the maximum for fee rates and cannot go much higher. He said he fears a "day of reckoning" is approaching.

Trippler noted that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) has been appointed to administer the fund. He said dry cleaner owners and/or operators are the only people eligible to use the fund money. Schmidt asked Trippler how "owner/operator" is defined in the State of Minnesota and whether a person would fall into that category if they bought a strip mall that had been used as a dry cleaning facility 10 years before the purchase. According to Minnesota law, Trippler said, a facility must contain dry cleaning equipment for it to be defined as a dry cleaning facility. In the hypothetical situation that Schmidt offered, Trippler continued, the strip mall owner could technically be considered an owner if the equipment were still located in the building. If it were not, however, the person would not be considered a dry cleaner owner and would not qualify for the fund.

Trippler said the fund can be used through two different programs:

Trippler said that site owners must pay a deductible of $10,000 and contribute all applicable insurance money before fund money can be used at a site. He said there is no limit to the amount of money that can be spent to clean a site. He also noted that operation and maintenance (O&M) activities are paid for by the fund. To date, Trippler noted, the fund has been used to pay for remediation at three sites. One of the sites, a Superfund site, cost $3 million to remediate. The other two sites, which were cleaned up through the VIC program, cost about $100,000 each. Trippler said additional sites have applied for reimbursement and that PCA is currently processing their bills and invoices. Trippler said he could not predict how many sites in Minnesota will eventually apply for fund assistance.

Presentation By the State of Tennessee
Steve Goins, Tennessee Drycleaner Environmental Response Program
Goins said that Tennessee's fund was established in June 1995. He said the fund is administered through the Drycleaner Environmental Response Program, a division of Tennessee's Superfund program. Goins noted that eight employees are involved in the drycleaner cleanup program. Half of the employees, Goins continued, are involved with administrative tasks (e.g., collecting fees and allotting reimbursements) and the other half perform technical tasks (e.g., review Work Plans). Goins said the cleanup program has a Governor-appointed oversight committee, which includes a couple of dry cleaners and one solvent supplier.

Goins said fees have been collected since January 1996 and come from several sources:

Using this fee system, Goins reported, about $1.7 million is collected per year. Unlike Minnesota, Goins reported, Tennessee uses fund money to pay for site investigatory work as well as site cleanup. Unlike Florida, he continued, Tennessee does not have a deadline for entering the cleanup program.

Goins said that sites eligible for fund money must have initiated inve stigatory and cleanup work after October 15, 1997. Also, Goins noted, the fund can only be used at sites where Work Plans, cost estimates, and implementation schedules have been preapproved by the cleanup program team. Goins said all site work must be performed by one or more of the 27 contractors that have been approved by Tennessee's Drycleaner Environmental Response Program. These contractors, he continued, perform at least one of the following functions: (1) facility inspection, (2) site investigation, (3) remedial oversight, or (4) remediation. Goins said that contractors are required to pay a fee so that fund money is not used to review and approve them.

Goins said sites are required to pay a deductible before receiving fund money. He said the deductible is pro-rated over the cost of the response activity and ranges from 5% to 25% of the total cost. He said deductibles cannot exceed $25,000. Goins said the fund can be used to reimburse costs up to $200,000 per year at each site. Although there is a limit on the amount of money that can be spent annually, Goins stressed that there is no limit to the amount of money that can be allotted for a site cleanup. He said Tennessee's program is unique because it has an I.O.U. policy. Basically, Goins noted, I.O.U.s can be written to site owners if the fund does not have adequate resources to pay for the cleanup at a given time.

Schmidt asked if Tennessee has adopted a priority ranking system for sites. Goins said that a ranking system has not been required yet. Goins said 21 sites (14 active sites and 7 abandoned sites) have applied for entry into the Environmental Response phase of Tennessee's program. At 12 of the sites, he continued, work has been initiated. To date, he said, site characterization costs have ranged from about $20,000 to $50,000 per site.

Goins noted that the State of Tennessee will require closed-loop delivery systems by October 2000. He said suppliers are pushing for this change. Currently, Goins noted, some suppliers use bulk delivery while other use a closed loop system. Burns said nearly all suppliers in Florida have switched to closed-loop systems.

Miscellaneous
Henning noted that the Interstate Technology Regulatory Cooperation Working Group for In Situ Chemical Oxidation is looking for additional state representatives to sit on their panel. He told participants to contact him for additional information.

Action Items