NYS DEC has finished inspecting all the perc users

About 12 summonses were issued with fines of $2,500 for a prompt compliance

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued summonses to about 12 dry cleaners who were still using perc machine, with about half of them finished paying the fine. NYS DEC is fining $5,000 for the violation with $2,500 suspended if the violation is remedied within 17 days.

When NYS DEC was amending Part 232, perc machines in a co-located buildings had to be taken down by December 21st, 2020. DEC also set up a fine of up to $18,000 with additional fine of up to $15,000 for each day the violation is not corrected.

To comply with these new rules, perc machines had to be either completely decommissioned with no solvent or power or removed from the premises. Once finished, a notice of dry cleaning equipment shutdown should be mailed by certified mail with signature required within 30 days.

A spokesman for the dry cleaning division of DEC acknowledged “an initial delay in enforcement due staff shortage” but “more staff as well as third party inspectors were hired.”

He mentioned “about 12 tickets were issued” and added “we still need to do follow-up inspections but we believe we have inspected all the perc machines.”

Actual inspection episode

One drycleaner who asked to be remain anonymous received a summons last September. He was “very surprised with the inspection” because he thought “the pandemic has put the enforcement on hold.” The inspector “must have been a third party since he looked like a college student.”

Several days later, he received a phone call from the DEC regional office and was told what to do next. “I removed the perc machine that week and sent the pictures to DEC,” said the owner.

The order of consent assessed a fine of $5,000 with $2,500 suspended for a prompt compliance.

He said he did not receive any more phone calls so he assumed the case was close. To his surprise, he received an “order of consent” in January with the penalty assessment.

“I didn’t know what to do so I called the Cleaners Monthly for help,” said the owner who added “that’s when I found out that I have consented to waive the right for a hearing and that the fine amount is less than a likely attorney’s fee.”

He is currently doing his cleaning from a friend’s plant but plans to buy a wetcleaning system “to be free from any more environmental regulations.”

Fire Department of New York is requiring a store-wide sprinkler system when using a flammable alternative solvent. Fortunately, FDNY has begun issuing variance under certain conditions since August, 2020.

Dennis Ahn (908-331-1022) from Ecotech Machinery who received the first ever variance approval from FDNY said “a variance will be given when certain conditions are met like a nitrogen tank.” He is available for consultation regardless of what brand of machine is being used.

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