North Carolina’s Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act Program celebrates 20 years of success

Raleigh, NC

State environmental officials today recognized the long-lasting achievements of the state’s Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act (DSCA) Program, which has been cleaning up historical contamination and preventing future releases for the past 20 years.

The program, established when the Dry-Cleaning Solvent Act was signed into legislation in 1997, works to protect human health and the environment by cleaning up sites with known or suspected dry-cleaning solvent contamination as well as working with dry-cleaning owners and operators to prevent future contamination. The DSCA legislation not only created the program but also a fund used to assess and cleanup dry-cleaning solvent contamination.

“The Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act Program is an integral component in creating a healthy environment for future generations,” said Michael Regan, secretary for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “It works to remove harmful soil and groundwater contamination to clean up areas so they can be used again for new businesses and helps small business owners continue to thrive, supporting North Carolina’s healthy economy.”

The DSCA Program exists because of a collaborative effort between the N.C. Association of Launderers and Cleaners (NCALC), state legislators and environmental officials. In 1995, the Association took a national idea to help dry-cleaners who faced penalties and bankruptcy for contamination through little or no fault of their own and brought it to the state’s legislators. The Act established the program, which is funded by receipts from taxes on dry-cleaning sales and dry-cleaning solvents.  

“On behalf of the Association, we are proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Dry Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act,” said Chris Edwards, vice president of governmental affairs for the NCALC. “It has been a pleasure to work with the staff of DEQ to do really good assessment and cleanup work at dry-cleaning sites across North Carolina. Our DSCA program is recognized across the United States as the best program between government and the regulated community to protect human health and the environment from the past, the present, and to prevent future contamination from dry cleaning operations.”

Since the program began, 466 contaminated sites have been reported to the program. Of those, 406 sites have been certified into the program, meaning they are able to be cleaned up using DSCA Program funds. There are 283 certified sites in active assessment or remediation. In the past twenty years, the program has closed out – remediated the contamination – 72 certified sites with another 48 pending closure.

The DSCA Program has worked in communities across the state to create healthier environment and repurpose contaminated sites. A couple of the program’s success stories are highlighted below.

  • The former Crisp Cleaners site in Asheville was originally a gas station, then a dry-cleaners, followed by Andy’s Heating and Cooling. It became a certified site in 2012; initial assessment showed contamination in soils and groundwater onsite. The DSCA Program worked with the owner to dig out the contaminated soil, install a treatment system and ensure the new building would be safe for reuse. In 2016, a restaurant opened for business, successfully putting an unused property back into use in the area and boosting the economy.
  • The former Thorne’s Dry Cleaners in Rocky Mount was identified as an environmental concern in 2009. The property owners voluntarily entered the DSCA Program in 2010, which began cleanup activities that included the excavation of four feet of contaminated soil, nearly eliminating soil and groundwater contamination. It was sold to a developer in 2013, and is now the home to a Dollar General, providing an economic benefit to this historically underused area.

“This program supports small businesses who are the backbone to the state’s economy while also protecting the state’s environmental assets. It’s a win-win situation for all involved,” said Regan.

More information about the DSCA Program can be found at: https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/waste-management/dry-cleaning-solvent-cleanup-act-program.

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