The US Environmental Protection Agency lists perchloroethylene (PCE) as a toxic chemical because it causes nerve and organ damage and possibly causes cancer in humans. EPA bases its findings on laboratory studies that demonstrate a correlation between exposure to PCE and cancer in mice and rats. PCE-contaminated sites must be cleaned up to a level that is protective of human health and the environment and is based on the current and reasonable likely future use of contaminated land or water.
The funds collected for this program are not used to search for contaminated sites; rather, existing dry cleaners submit a claim to the DEQ for funding from the Dry Cleaner Environmental Response Account (Account) to clean up contaminated sites. Given the voluntary nature of the program, the DEQ encourages as many dry cleaners as possible to submit claim for funding from the Account.
One purpose for encouraging dry cleaners to submit a claim for funds was to get some indication of the number and severity of cleanups anticipated under this program. For information on the application process, Dry Cleaner Program Environmental Response Claim and Claim Form.
The time required for remediation at a given site will depend on:
- The degree of difficulty in determining the area and extent of contamination,
- The target concentration in the soil or groundwater to be achieved at the end of the remedial action,
- The rate at which soil and water concentrations will decrease as a result of a given remediation technology, and
- The amount of funds in the Account.
The cost of cleaning up all contaminated dry cleaner sites in the state is estimated to be over $100 million, but it cannot be estimated accurately because the number of contaminated sites is not known. In addition, the extent and distribution of the contaminant, the specific remediation technologies that are best suited for each cleanup, and the time required to achieve remediation goals are highly variable from site to site.