Dry Cleaner Pollution Assessment and Remediation Presentation to Major Insurance Carrier

May 3, 2019


Dry Cleaner Remediation Best Practices

GeoInsight senior associate and geologist, Kevin D. Trainer, recently gave an accredited presentation to professionals at a major insurance carrier on the assessment and remediation of hazardous releases from dry cleaning facilities. Dry cleaners have long used toxic chemicals —particularly PCE and other chlorinated solvents — that can have serious health implications if a release impacts indoor air or a water supply. Recent studies have identified increased risks associated with these chemicals, and regulatory changes have included new requirements to protect human health. It is a significant advantage for insurance professionals to understand the best practices for dry cleaner releases that can help mitigate project costs.

At GeoInsight, we excel at distilling complex information. It was a pleasure to teach this group of non-technical professionals about the best management practices for assessing and remediating dry cleaner releases, providing context about why these methods should be followed and identifying the most sensitive components.

Six Key Takeaways From the Presentation

  1. Common Release Situations at Dry Cleaning Facilities:

    The primary issue with releases of chlorinated solvents and PCEs is they can easily move through the soil, contaminating local groundwater sources and creating potential vapor intrusion issues to nearby buildings. Common release sources include:
    • the location of dry cleaning machines and distillation/filtrations units;
    • service doors;
    • septic fields, floor drains, and drywells;
    • current or former underground storage tanks (USTs), aboveground storage tanks (ASTs), and storage drums;
    • sewer lines; and
    • the fitness of dumpsters and trash areas.
  2. Initial Response and Investigation:

    Upon the first appearance of a spill, dry cleaners should immediately respond by mitigating known/potential exposure pathways, from vapor intrusion to water supply wells. This step should include ensuring impacted private water sources receive treatment and/or bottled water. Once exposure risks are mitigated, teams should move onto investigating the extent of the release. Such investigations typically involve collecting samples of different media (soil, groundwater, soil gas and/or indoor air) to identify the location of impacts and evaluate potential exposure pathways.
  3. Various Remedial Technologies:

    While there are numerous technologies to remediate common releases, there are several that, in GeoInsight’s experience, have proven to be effective. Preventing potential exposure to vapors can be achieved using a variety of different vapor mitigation measures, including sub-slab depressurization system (SSDS), crack sealing, or the application of a vapor barrier spray/membrane. Remediation of groundwater and soil contamination typically involves more advanced technologies, including In-Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) and Soil Vapor Extraction.
  4. Post-Remediation Challenges:

    While remediation methods can be used to reduce the contamination caused by common dry cleaner chemicals, the remedial plans should consider the unfortunately common, but often overlooked, challenges that arise at these spills. Post-remediation “rebound” of contaminants can be a result of:
    • insufficient source area remediation (often a result of rushing through site investigation);
    • matrix diffusion—the dispersal of contaminants through sediment fractures caused either by
    • large volumes of released contaminants, slow groundwater flow, or sites that have had past releases; and
    • preferential pathways caused by buried stream channels and underdrains.
    It is thus important to plan this work with care, to ensure that remediation correctly targets the contaminated areas.
  5. Managing Remediation Costs:

    Dry cleaner contaminant releases will require some form of assessment and often remediation. From a financial perspective, it is important to properly budget the project. Depending on scope and site geology, the costs incurred during the assessment and investigation phase typically vary between $10,000 and $50,000. Companies should also consider that future costs will be required for further assessment, as future sampling will be required of these wells to guarantee no further contamination exists. The costs for common exposure mitigation systems typically range between $5K to $10K per system (for sub-slab depressurization systems) and $10K to $15K per system (for private well point-of-entry treatment). Remediation costs are highly variable, but will typically range between six and seven figures.
  6. Setting Appropriate Project Goals:

    Before beginning site remediation, it is important for companies to consider the strategy that will be undertaken and identifying appropriate goals to manage both internal and external expectations.


Download the full presentation here:


KDTrainer@geoinc.com| 978.679.1600

With 25 years of on-site experience in the industry, Kevin is one of GeoInsight’s foremost remedial experts, having assisted many New England clients resolve their complex contamination challenges.