(The information in this newsletter has been gleaned from an EPA sponsored site http://www.drycleancoalition.org and enhanced with images.)
This info-letter is one of a series on drycleaning operations, their impact on the environment and hurdles they pose in real estate transactions. Search here for more.
During dry cleaning operations, stubborn stains are often removed by directly applying chemicals to the blemishes in a process call Dry Spotting. A greater variety of chemicals are used at the spotting board than at any other location in a drycleaning plant.
Sometimes a large number of containers containing spotting agents are temporarily stored on the spotting board. In addition to splashing and other discharges during the spotting process, containers of spotting agents have leaked or been spilled around the area of the spotting board. The drain receptacle (semi-circular cylinder) located at the base of the spotting board, which receives steam condensate and spotting wastes will tend to corrode over time and will eventually leak.
Some operators have replaced these receptacles with cans or plastic containers, but others have allowed these wastes to discharge to the floor or a floor drain. Most containers of spotting agents at drycleaning facilities are not stored in secondary containment, but instead on shelves or on the floor.
Spotting board wastes have been discharged to floor drains (sanitary sewer), septic tanks and to the ground.
Historically, lint from drycleaning operations has been disposed with trash and in some cases discharged to the ground outside the facility. As stated earlier, lint from a drycleaning machine contains solvent and lint extracted from the button trap or the pump strainer will be saturated with solvent.
In the dry cleaning process, used solvents are distilled in a Still Machine to reuse the chemicals. The unrecoverable chemicals, called the Sludge, collect over time in a “still bottom”. The waste sludge from the still contains solvent, water, soils, carbon, and other non-volatile residues. Still bottoms from solvent dry cleaning operations are hazardous wastes.
A few odd waste management practices and drycleaning solvent uses that have been reported include still bottoms being used to undercoat vehicles, and PCE being used to kill weeds and fire ants outside a drycleaning facility.