Dry-cleaning Equipment & Dry-cleaning Operations
(The information in this newsletter has been gleaned from an EPA sponsored site http://www.drycleancoalition.org and enhanced with pictures obtained on the Web.)
Although much of the dry-cleaning solvent being used today is delivered via closed-loop systems, historically dry-cleaning solvent has been delivered in drums and by tank trucks.
Some dry-cleaning wholesale supply facilities receive solvent deliveries via railroad tank cars.
Numerous instances of solvent discharges, associated with these deliveries, have been documented including:
Discharge of solvent during transfer from railroad tank car
Discharge of solvent when delivery hose uncoupled from tank truck
Overfilling of solvent storage tanks
Discharge of solvent to facility floor or ground when delivery hose is reeled in
Discharge of solvent from drums dropped during delivery
Discharge of solvent when withdrawing solvent from an above-ground storage tank or transferring solvent to a dry-cleaning machine
Discharge of solvent while filling dry-cleaning machine and from overfilling machine
Due primarily to the industry conversion to more efficient dry-cleaning machines, PCE use by drycleaners in the United States has dramatically declined. A survey found that PCE use by drycleaners in the United States in 2001 was 52 million pounds compared to 260 million pounds used in 1985.
Since today's generation dry-cleaning machines are more efficient, they use much less solvent and therefore, much less solvent is stored at dry-cleaning facilities.
Most facilities store dry-cleaning solvent in the tanks located at the base of the dry-cleaning machine.
In the past, additional solvent was often stored in tanks, primarily aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) for PCE and both aboveground and underground storage tanks (USTs) for petroleum solvents. There have been solvent discharges associated with these storage tanks from leaks (valves, flowlines and tanks) and from spills (during both tank filling and solvent withdrawal).
A study of reported solvent leaks, spills and discharges at 334 dry-cleaning facilities and 14 dry-cleaning wholesale supply facilities located in Florida found that the largest average solvent spill volumes were associated with solvent transfer and storage.
Approximately 20.9% of the solvent and solvent-contaminated waste discharges reported in the Florida study were due to equipment operation problems including still boil-overs, clothing caught in the machine door, loose cartridge filter housings, overflow of water separator, and open valves.
The largest number of reported spills/discharges (39.2%) were associated with equipment failure, including leaking gaskets, seals, valves, ruptured hoses, failed couplings, and equipment corrosion
The Florida study found that 13.8% of the reported solvent/solvent waste discharges were associated with dry-cleaning machine/equipment maintenance. This includes spills associated with filter changes, still cleanouts, servicing of the solvent pump and button trap cleanouts.