The dry-cleaning industry has come under scrutiny in recent years for groundwater contamination and pollution, resulting in many complex environmental laws and regulations involving dry-cleaning businesses.
Understanding and complying with these laws can be challenging for owners of dry-cleaning businesses or property owners who rent to dry cleaning businesses. However, proactively acting to efficiently solve problems and taking steps to prevent future issues can help you avoid costly and lengthy litigation.
Contamination may be accidental
The International Fabricare Institute estimates that there are approximately 35,000 retail dry cleaners nationwide. Additionally, a high percentage of dry cleaners have released chemicals into their soil or groundwater. While chemicals are sometimes released on purpose, many times, they are accidentally released through sewer-line leaks or through other methods.
Although dry-cleaning equipment has improved over the years, dry cleaners and property owners still face a high risk of having to pay millions of dollars in cleanup costs in cases of contamination. Business owners often cannot afford these exorbitant costs, leaving the property owners to foot the bill.
The importance of insurance
Having a strong environmental insurance policy is essential. Many insurance policies allow you to choose different options, some of which cover the cleanup costs of known contamination, and others that cover the cost of any future discovered contamination. Property owners often require dry cleaning tenants to provide proof of insurance policies that cover these types of environmental concerns.
Use up-to-date technology and perform regular inspections
California law requires dry cleaners to use the latest dry-cleaning technology. Even with the newest technology, inspect your equipment and operations regularly. This will help prevent future contamination issues.
Contamination is just one example of the many environmental issues that dry cleaning businesses and the property owners who rent to dry cleaners face. The cost of litigation and cleanup can be devastating, potentially even resulting in bankruptcy or property loss. Having an experienced environmental attorney on your side can help.