New York State Considers New Drycleaning Regulations

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Staff Writer |

Recent meetings propose broadening scope beyond perc, reports NCA’s Nealis

NEW YORK CITY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) recently hosted what it calls “stakeholder meetings” concerning changes it is considering to Part 232 Regulation governing dry cleaners, reports New York City-based National Cleaners Association (NCA). Dry Cleaner Regulation Part 232 establishes regulatory strategies regarding the use of perchloroethylene, or perc.

While the DEC stresses that it was not formal rule-making but an initial outreach to obtain stakeholder input, writes the NCA, industry advocates are concerned about the wide-reaching impact of the requirements under consideration.

According to NCA Executive Director Nora Nealis, the proposed changes would broaden the scope of a regulation currently focused on perc and affect every dry cleaner in New York state, regardless of the drycleaning solvent or process they are using.

The revised version of Part 232 would impact all New York state drycleaning operations: perchloroethylene, high-flash alternative solvents, and lower-flash solvents, she says.

“Every dry cleaner (including those using alternative solvents) would have to post a notice in their call office identifying the chemical and trade name of the solvent(s) being used in the facility.

“The notice would also cite a page on the Department’s website where the Safety Data Sheet for the solvent could be accessed. Meeting participants seem to have no objections to this requirement, and some even expressed strong support.”

Based on DEC meetings she attended across the state in late October and early November, Nealis notes the major points under consideration:

For alternative solvent users, DEC is contemplating:

  • Annual flash-point testing of the solvent in the machine;
  • A DEC list of acceptable solvents;
  • A DEC list of acceptable machine models;
  • A prohibition against transfer operations;
  • A requirement that the equipment be non-venting;
  • A requirement that only new equipment could be installed (no used machinery permitted);
  • A requirement to check for leaks and to maintain and operate the machine in accordance with the machinery and solvent manufacturers’ instructions; and
  • Recordkeeping by the dry cleaner to ensure the machine is being operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s manual.

For perc dry cleaners, DEC is considering:

  • Eliminating obsolete requirements in both the rule and the DEC-approved Perc Dry Cleaner training courses and exams;
  • Retaining all existing requirements regarding training, third-party inspections, air sampling, machinery performance, recordkeeping, new equipment, etc.; and
  • Phasing out perc in all locations and building types.

For petroleum (low-flash) transfer cleaners, DEC is considering:

  • A phase-out of transfer operations with staggered dates depending on whether or not the cleaner is operating with recovery dryers; and
  • A prohibition against drying cabinets, dip tanks, and other similar practices.

If formally proposed and adopted, the New York DEC would be the first in the country to impose these kinds of regulations on non-perc dry cleaners, and New York would be the second state to have a perc ban, writes Nealis.

“This leaves many in the industry wondering if other states will look to adopt air regulations specific to the use of alternative solvents, if New York goes forward with the points outlined in their Fact Sheet,” she says.

Largely, the participants at the four meetings were local dry cleaners, allied trade representatives, consultants, compliance inspectors, the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance (HSIA, representing the perc manufacturers) and the industry’s trade associations, the NCA and the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), she notes.

At the end of each meeting, the DEC encouraged participants to share their thoughts, suggestions and objections by letter.

The NCA urges dry cleaners to send a copy of those letters to their local elected officials and the governor’s office, saying that political pressure is needed to dissuade DEC from the path it is on, Nealis says. For further information about this from the NCA, call 212-967-3002.

For more about Dry Cleaner Regulation Part 232, go to www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/38088.html or call the New York DEC at 518-402-8403.

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