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Dry Cleaner Regulations and Policy FAQ

The Department receives many questions regarding DEC's policy on dry-cleaner issues associated with the implementation of Part 232. The following are questions and answers on common topics that are of interest to the dry-cleaning community.

Question: What are DEC's future enforcement plans for Part 232 dry-cleaners?

Answer: DEC will continue its practice of conducting inspection initiatives ("inspection sweeps"). Additionally, DEC has the responsibility to investigate complaints about dry-cleaners from the public; facilities discovered not to be in compliance with Part 232 at any time are subject to enforcement actions including monetary penalties. DEC reserves its option to conduct additional audit inspections of dry-cleaning facilities which have recently undergone the required §232.16 Compliance Inspections. These follow-up inspections allow DEC to monitor the activities of the authorized Registered Compliance Inspectors and to confirm the findings they submit to DEC regional Air Pollution Control Engineers in the Compliance Inspection reports.

Question: How does DEC ensure that dry-cleaners located in different parts of the state receive consistent Part 232 enforcement?

Answer: DEC central office establishes the enforcement guidelines for regional staff to follow. In the case of dry-cleaners, these guidelines were noticed in the April 21, 1999 Environmental Notice Bulletin. The guidelines establish penalty ranges for violations of different sections of Part 232. Regional staff continue to have enforcement discretion which allows them to assess penalties in the low end of the range if the cleaner is trying to comply versus assessing greater penalties when the cleaner is recalcitrant. DEC's goal is full compliance with Part 232 from all facilities.

Question: Will all equipment be certified, including wastewater treatment units?

Answer: The §232.13 the Equipment Testing and Certification requirements apply only to new fourth generation closed-loop dry cleaning machines, converted dry cleaning machines, door fan systems and add-on secondary control systems.

With regard to wastewater treatment devices, the regulation requires that Perc-contaminated wastewater be treated to reduce the Perc concentration in the wastewater to 20 parts per billion (PPB) or less. The units used to treat the Perc contaminated wastewater must meet specifications contained in §232.9. Under the regulation's Operation and Maintenance standards, dry-cleaners are required to demonstrate compliance by using a unit designed to meet the §232.9 requirements and operated consistent with manufacturer's specifications (see §232.8(5)(iii)).

To document compliance, §232.12(a)(7) et al requires that dry-cleaners maintain written documentation showing that wastewater treatment units are operated and maintained according to these manufacturer's specifications. Such records may include, but are not limited to, equipment manuals, purchase records and completed DEC Operation and Maintenance checklists.

Question: Can a candidate for Operator Certification who has failed the exam re-take either the written or hands-on portion of the exam alone in an effort to pass the exam.

Answer: Certified Operator candidates who receive a failing mark for the certification examination must retake both the written and hands-on sections of the exam. The Part 232 Advisory Committee concurred that passing the Operator Certification exam would entail demonstrating both written and hands-on knowledge of the required subject material. There is no individual "pass" or "fail" grade for each section of this exam, but only one combined final examination score. Therefore, the candidate cannot retake only part of the exam.

Question: Must new dry-cleaner Owner-Managers and machine Operators be certified before commencing operation of a new facility? Can't new Perc dry-cleaners just enroll in the next available training class after opening up their shop? Do they have to demonstrate "unreasonable burden" for not having obtained prior Owner/Manager and Operators certification?

Answer: The §232.14(f) "unreasonable burden" clause was intended to address the lack of availability of training courses and testing services during the phase-in portion of this regulation's implementation. The installation of a new facility is hardly an unforeseen or unpredictable circumstance.

It is incumbent upon a new facility owner to obtain all necessary government permits, registrations, licenses, approvals and certifications prior to opening the facility.

The §232.14 training and certification process serves to inform potential Perc dry-cleaners of the regulatory requirements associated with operating a Perc dry-cleaning facility and the current alternatives to Perc dry-cleaning. DEC approved training organizations are required to provide training at least once every quarter of the year.

Note further that §232.14(b) covers the situation where a certified operator is unavailable due to "unforeseen/unpredictable situation[s]," for example, the certified operator is hospitalized or dies. Vacations and other routine staff absences are not considered valid §232.14(b) exceptions. Part 232 applicable facility Owner-Managers are advised of the wisdom of having more than one certified individual available to operate the dry-cleaning machine to ensure operational continuity.

Question: What are DEC's policies regarding permitting and registration of new Perc dry-cleaners and dry cleaning machines using alternative solvents? What is the procedure for transferring ownership of a facility?

Answer: All major facilities must obtain a Title V permit. Major facilities are defined as having the potential to emit above the thresholds specified in Part 201. For Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), like Perc, the threshold is 10 tons per year of a single HAP. If more than one HAP is emitted, the threshold is 25 tons per year total HAPs. For volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like petroleum solvents, the threshold is dependent on the attainment status of the area in which the dry-cleaner is located. Downstate the major facility threshold for VOCs is 25 tons per year, and upstate the threshold is 50 tons per year.

New dry-cleaning facilities with emissions less than the Title V major source thresholds, but greater than or equal to 50 % of the major source thresholds, are required to apply for a state facility permit. For Perc dry-cleaners, this would be between 5 and 10 tons per year.

Perc dry-cleaners below 50% of the Title V major source thresholds (i.e., below 5 tons per year), have been required to obtain DEC registrations and answer specific questions regarding their facility with their registration application. Note that the vast majority of Perc dry-cleaners falls into this category. DEC is currently revising it's permits and certificates rule to reflect this position.

DEC is also revising its permits and certificates rule to allow cleaners using solvents which contain trace amounts of HAPs (0 .02 weight percent or less) in a closed loop, dry-to-dry machine to register. Cleaners using a solvent containing HAPs or an open-loop (transfer or otherwise vented) machine are required to apply for a state facility permit. These sources are required to be evaluated under DEC's Air Toxics rule, Part 212, to determine if off-site ambient impacts are greater than health-based exposure guideline concentrations; dry-cleaning machine control equipment requirements are based upon this engineering analysis.

Exempt dry-cleaning solvents: CO2 dry-cleaning machines and wet-cleaning machines are currently exempted from the requirement to obtain an air facility permit or registration certificate.

Machine removal: Part 232.15(b) requires dry-cleaners removing Perc dry cleaning machines to notify the appropriate DEC Regional Air Pollution Control Engineer that the machine has been removed within 30 days by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Ownership transfer: Dry-cleaners transferring ownership of a facility must file an Application for Permit Transfer form within 30 days of the change of ownership at the appropriate DEC Regional Air Program office. New Owners-Managers and Operators must be certified prior to taking over the facility.

New facility, new machine, new solvents: In all cases dry-cleaners are required to apply for the permit or registration certificate prior to installing a new facility, new machine, or changing solvents.