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April 6, 2009
By Claudene Wharton
Perchloroethylene, commonly referred to as PCE or Perc, is used by about 80 to 90 percent of dry cleaners in Nevada. To minimize any potential for groundwater contamination that could occur from the chemical’s use, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) and the University of Nevada, Reno Business Environmental Program have developed a program to encourage use of best management practices, environmental compliance, and self-inspection by dry cleaners using PCE. A free training seminar for PCE dry cleaners will be held 2 to 4 p.m., April 15 at the NV Energy Auditorium, 6100 Neil Road, Reno.
Working with local environmental agency representatives and dry cleaners, NDEP and the University developed a manual containing all of the environmental compliance requirements and best management practices for Washoe County dry cleaners using PCE. The manual and a self-inspection checklist will be reviewed at the workshop.
The program, funded by an Innovations Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is an Environmental Results Program, which is an innovative program designed to measure and maximize the environmental compliance of small business sectors.
“The Environmental Results Program and use of self-inspection and compliance certification by small businesses have proven effective in achieving high levels of environmental performance in other states that have implemented these programs,” noted Kevin Dick, director of the University’s Business Environmental Program at the College of Business.
Dick explained that the self-inspection and certification are useful compliance tools for owners and managers of dry cleaning businesses. The practices supplement, but do not replace the annual inspections conducted by local agencies that regulate air quality, wastewater and hazardous waste management.
The program is strongly endorsed by Pete Koliastasis of Canyon Cleaners in Reno, who participated with other dry cleaners in a focus group to help develop the manual and checklist.
“Washoe County dry cleaners are committed to meeting or exceeding all environmental requirements,” he said. “I encourage all dry cleaners using Perc to attend this workshop and participate in this important program.”
Han Son, of Society Cleaners of Reno agreed, saying, “Yes, we must all do our part, and part of that is participating in this workshop and this new program.”
The University and NDEP have done some work with dry cleaners in the past to address the PCE issue. However, Dick said the new manual and self-inspection checklist should greatly help dry cleaners in their efforts to comply with regulations and protect the environment.
“We were eager to collaborate with NDEP again to ensure that dry cleaners receive the information and training they need to protect Washoe County’s environment,” he added.
A similar manual and program will be presented in Clark County later this year or early in 2010. Those who plan to attend the April 15 Washoe County workshop in Reno should call 689-6890 to preregister.