Dry Cleaner To Pay $2.2M To Settle NY’s Pollution Claims

Google image for 411 Main Street, Huntington, NY
[law360.com – 2022.03.21] A Long Island, New York, laundromat and dry cleaner owner agreed Monday to pay $2.2 million to settle the state’s claims for cleanup costs related to chemical contamination that allegedly polluted the groundwater around the facility.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the dry cleaners, located in Huntington, New York, violated the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act between approximately 1965 and 2004 by releasing tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or PCE, at the site and that PCE and its degradation products trichloroethene, or TCE, and dichloroethylene, or DCE, leached into groundwater at the site and then migrated into groundwater off site.

The state said it’s already spent more than $1 million remediating the site, and it expects to spend at least that much more before the job is done.

The site was owned by now-deceased Stephen Birchell through his company K. B. K. Huntington Corp., and his successors denied liability in a consent decree that settled the case. The facility had several names over the years including Main Street Cleaners and Country Cleaners.

“Defendants intend to fund settlement of the state’s claims against them in part through the sale of real property, including the site, and the parties agree that it is in their mutual interests to facilitate such sale,” the consent decree said.

The dry cleaning site is bordered by residential and commercial properties, the state said in its 2020 complaint. It’s also directly above a “sole source aquifer” that is Long Island’s primary source of drinking water, the DEC said in its complaint.

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