State Coalition for Remediation of Drycleaners Logo

Prepared by

State Coalition for Remediation of Drycleaners


Robin Schmidt (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
Richard De Zeeuw (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality)
Leo Henning (Kansas Department of Health and Environment)
Dale Trippler (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

With Support from

Technology Innovation Office
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


In 1998, the EPA Office of Innovative Technology through the National Groundwater Association brought together a handful of states that had legislation specific to the investigation and remediation of drycleaner sites. That group developed into the States Coalition for the Remediation of Drycleaners. The Coalition members currently include nine states that have specific drycleaner remediation programs: Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Associate member, states that are likely to have programs in the near future, are Louisiana, Missouri, and New Mexico. In addition, a number of other states, including California, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have expressed interest in participating in Coalition activities.

There are four main objectives of the Coalition:

  • Provide a forum for the exchange of information and the discussion of both technical and implementation issues related to state drycleaner programs;
  • Share information and lessons learned with states that do not have drycleaner-specific programs;
  • Serve as a resource for drycleaner remediation issues; and
  • Encourage the use of innovative technologies in drycleaner remediation.

Program Administration Survey

There are three working subgroups within the Coalition to address program administration issues, technical issues, and outreach.

The Program Administration subgroup completed a survey early this year that focuses on three main areas: General administrative issues; Fee/fund solvency issues; and Benefits associated with the various programs

We collected information on the number of sites in the various state programs, the remediation stage of those sites, the system for prioritizing sites, the fee system, the fee structure itself, average fees, deductibles and insurance coverage, revenues collected, fund balances, benefits of participation, limit of funds, and requirements of facility owners or operators.

The Scope of the Problem

State Coalition for Remediation of Drycleaners Logo

There are about 22,300 active drycleaning plants in the nation. Most states agree that about 75% of all drycleaners have some level of contamination. This does not mean that 75% of the drycleaners will require active remediation, but that contamination is present at some level at those sites. From that, we can deduce that almost 17,000 drycleaner sites nationally have some level of contamination. From our survey, we estimate that just over 7000 sites are covered by a specific state drycleaner program - and extrapolate again that over 5000 sites (75%) can be addressed through a state drycleaner remediation program. The actual number of sites being addressed by a specific cleanup number is likely higher than this, as several state programs also address closed drycleaning facilities. Over $14,500,000 is available for the investigation and remediation of drycleaner sites through these state programs.

State Programs

While there are significant differences between each state program, the basic premise is the same for each: drycleaners (and often solvent suppliers, as well) pay fees in exchange for financial relief to clean up contaminated sites. Who conducts remedial activities differs among state programs, as do the fees paid and the benefits received. It is interesting to note that for each of the already established state programs, the drycleaning industry itself played a significant role in the establishment of the program.

Drycleaner programs differ in several ways between the states. Florida was the first state to establish a program and limited the time period in which drycleaners could register their sites with the state and become eligible for the program. The State of Florida then prioritized the sites. They will investigate the sites and determine what level of remediation if any, is needed. Both assessment and remedial work is conducted by 10 contractors working for the state. The drycleaner pays fees and receives remediation liability protection. Those sites that wish to conduct their own remedial activities may receive tax credits for their remedial costs. There is no cap put on the cost of remediation of sites in Florida.



Illinois program provides an insurance pool from which drycleaners can draw to pay their remediation costs. Depending on whether sites are active or not, the limits of insurance vary. Insurance caps vary as well, with the highest cap being $500,000. Inactive sites are limited to $50,000, and there is a relatively short time period in which sites can file for insurance claims.



In Kansas, the state has hired and directs the activities of an environmental contractor that investigates and remediates drycleaner sites. Sites are prioritized using a numeric scoring system. Active drycleaners, abandoned cleaners, property owners and third parties are covered by the Kansas program. There is a $5 million cap per site, and the drycleaners receive liability protection from remediation costs.


Wisconsin's program is simply a reimbursement program, where the drycleaner is responsible for investigating and remediating its own site. At various milestones, the drycleaner is eligible for reimbursement from their remediation costs (after paying a deductible), with a site maximum of $500,000 and no liability protection awarded for the current or future remedial activities. Costs of financing are not reimbursable, and abandoned properties are not eligible unless the original facility owner or operator is available to submit a reimbursement application.


State Program Effectiveness

Even though many of the state programs are fairly new and most have very limited budgets, they have been effective in performing the necessary tasks in a timely manner. To date, the state's drycleaning programs have performed at least 236 assessments, 100 remedial actions, and closed 16 drycleaning sites. These numbers are increasing rapidly as the drycleaning programs in each state become effective and continue to mature.

Facility Requirements

Facility owners and operators need to comply with a number of requirements to be eligible for the various state programs. In each state program, there is some type of fee that must be paid by the owner or operator of the drycleaning facility, and in each state, active drycleaning facilities are eligible for benefits. Some state programs require facility owners and operators to register with the state, while other states license the facilities. Each state program requires eligible facilities to be in compliance with state and federal environmental regulations.


In addition, each state program has a requirement for some type of pollution prevention either prior to the remediation or at the time that remediation occurs. The intent of the pollution prevention requirements is to ensure that the past practices commonly used which lead to contamination are no longer allowed.

Program Fees

The primary types of fees include annual fees charged to a facility, gross receipts surcharges on drycleaning services, and solvent fees charged for each gallon of drycleaning solvent used. In addition to raising revenues for remediation programs, solvent fees also provide an incentive for drycleaners to use solvent as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, this does not result in stable funding as the use of the solvents continues to decrease and some drycleaners now purchase solvent illegally from neighboring states that do not have a program or a solvent fee. Reduction in solvent use has been accomplished primarily by industry's switching to new high efficiency machines that use significantly less solvent. This factor is considered an important indirect environmental benefit of the state drycleaner programs.


Nearly all state drycleaner programs are generating significantly less revenue than the amounts projected during the development of legislative budgets. Most programs are experiencing revenues that range from 60% to 70% of the initial projections. Reasons for underestimating revenue projections include poor estimates of the number of drycleaners and industry's enthusiasm to show their perspective legislature's their ability to fund such programs.

Lack of program funds is a significant problem for many of the state programs. Many states are in the process of reconsidering program funding to assure the full amount originally anticipated is collected, or to better meet the needs of the program.

State Program Costs

Annual administrative costs vary, depending on the size of the state program and the type of program being implemented. Administrative costs between states can be compared by using costs as a percentage of trust fund receipts per year. The percentage ranges from 6% in Minnesota to 20% in Illinois and Oregon, with the average being about 14%. Most of the programs are administered by the agency responsible for ground water remedial actions. Illinois' program is administered outside of the state government system through a trust fund council. The council is responsible for providing direction and overseeing a consulting company that runs the program and reports on its progress.


Because there are insufficient resources (staff and funds) to remediate all drycleaner sites at once, most programs use a priority ranking system. Most ranking systems provide a numerical score that prioritizes the sites, allowing the drycleaning programs to address the worst sites first.

The number of applicants to the various state programs ranges from 0 to 1,562. The difference lies in the maturity of the programs and state requirements to become an applicant. The states with no applicants have programs that are just beginning and application procedures have not yet been implemented Some states such as Florida and South Carolina have many applicants because their regulations imposed a deadline for applying to the drycleaning trust fund. All drycleaning facilities that wanted to be accepted into the program had to have their application submitted by a specified date. This method created a large backlog of sites in those states that will require remedial action. But it also allows these two states to forecast their workload more precisely.

Other Coalition Activities

In addition to the mission of the Coalition to provide a forum for the exchange of information for member states, another one of our goals is to broaden our scope to include other governmental organizations and other entities that have a role in drycleaner remediation across the country. We are using various tools to accomplish this task: presentations at professional conferences and trade shows, newsletters to interested parties, up-to-date information on the World Wide Web, and semi-annual meetings that are open to all interested parties.

Another important goal of the Coalition is to encourage the use of innovative technologies in drycleaner remediation. Our member states are trying new technologies designed to rapidly breakdown drycleaner solvents to reduce the mass of solvents remaining in the soil and ground water. During our meetings we discuss the successes and failures encountered using these new technologies. This is one of the most important tools we have to learn about the effectiveness of a specific technology and can be invaluable to others with similar situations and conditions they encounter. Information about the results of new approaches to remediating dry cleaner sites will be added to the web site as new developments arise.

Lastly, pollution prevention is one of the best ways to limit how much contamination is released into the environment. The states with drycleaner programs are already working with the members of the drycleaner industries in their respective states to address the environmental problems facing them. The Coalition members recognize the importance of partnering with the drycleaner industry to meet environmental goals. The Coalition will provide information and support to member states and others in fostering a dialog with the drycleaner industry to find ways to minimize the release of drycleaner solvents to the environment.

For More Information

Detailed tables containing data gathered during the Program Administration survey are included as an Appendix to this report; they are in PDF-format and are available for download. Click here to view/download a PDF file containing details of the survey.

To help disseminate information regarding the remediation of drycleaner sites, the Coalition has established a World Wide Web site that is available through EPA's Clean-Up Information (Clu-In) site at The web site contains up-to-date information about all of the Coalition's on-going activities. In addition, the web site includes links to other sites offering information on the individual state programs and technical information on drycleaning solvents, health related issues, and assessment and remediation technologies. While there are member-only areas on the web site, the site is intended for use by any party interested in drycleaner remediation issues.