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A number of issues are seen in numerous dry-cleaner locations. These include:
Release of solvent to floor drains, commonly caused by underground and above-ground storage tanks and overfill;
Spillage on unsealed floors beneath dry-cleaning units;
Poor storage of solvent and filters;
Poorly designed plumbing for the residual solvent that is supposed to go into the sewer; and
Wastewater discharge to floor drains, septic systems or injection wells or dry wells
With some of these exposure factors, a Phase II subsurface investigation may be the only way to determine if solvent usage has affected the property.
Relatively small releases of PCE can cause significant problems. Because PCE is denser than water, subsurface borings need to extend down to confining layers to "chase" the solvent plume. This can be an expensive process.
Often, even dry cleaners that have operated for a short time can face negative impacts if preventative countermeasures are not taken.
Common countermeasures to reduce the potential for releases include:
Installing impervious epoxy floor sealants;
Sealing all floor drains, cracks and seams, including seams between the floor and walls and those on spent-filter storage containers; and
Positioning secondary containment beneath equipment, as well as under all solvent storage and handling areas
If pollution has occurred, corrective actions depend on the exposure risk of a plume and state in which the pollution occurred. Corrective actions include continued monitoring; containment and dewatering; groundwater extraction and treatment; aerobic stripping; and chemical oxidation.
No matter what, ensure that when a Phase II assessment occurs, the consultant conducts a thorough investigation that provides enough information to make a good decision regarding a property's risks.
Jay Kwon is the founder and CEO of JMK Environmental
Solutions, Inc., a real estate due-diligence consulting company with more than 17 years of service nationwide. He is a registered environmental assessor and a certified environmental investigator. Kwon also has managed more than 12,000 projects with various federal, state and local government clients, as well as with commercial lenders and private institutions serving more than 150 lenders. Reach him at (800) 900-1511 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.jmkenv.com.
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