Pollution cleanups planned for two dry cleaning sites

Source:, April 19, 2019
By: Brian Nearing

Toxic chemicals will be dug out of two vacant former dry cleaners sites in Schenectady and Watervliet, under plans announced by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The property around the former Admiral Cleaners, 617 19th St., Watervliet, and the former Kenwood Cleaners, 445 Duane Ave.,
Schenectady, are tainted with high levels of a carcinogenic dry cleaning solvent, tetrachloroethene (PCE), and related toxic byproducts.
Exposure to PCE likely increases cancer risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Primary effects from chronic, long-term inhalation exposure are neurological, including impaired cognitive and motor neurobehavioral performance, according to EPA.
PCE exposure may also “cause adverse effects in the kidney, liver, immune system and hematologic system, and on development and reproduction,” according to the EPA.
DEC plans to dig up and dispose of about 15 feet of PCE-tainted soil around the Admiral site and remove an underground storage tank, according to agency paperwork. The site closed in 2017, but had been a dry cleaners since 1950 before closing in 2013 due to environmental violations. After that, it was used as a drop-off shop for dry cleaning, where clothes were taken elsewhere to be cleaned.
The $400,000 cost of the program would be paid for the by the state Superfund program, which covers the expense of cleanups when the person or company responsible for the pollution cannot pay or refuses to do so.
A copy of the plan can be found in the office of the Watervliet city clerk at 2 Fifteenth St., Watervliet.
At the former Kenwood site, about 20 feet of PCE-tainted soil will be removed and disposed of as part of a $1.1 million cleanup plan, according to DEC paperwork. It also will be paid for through the state Superfund program.
The cleaners opened in 1950, and operated as late as the 1980s, according to DEC. PCE was found in both the ground and groundwater at levels well beyond state safety standards.
PCE vapors were also found to be leaking out of the ground, including at one unspecified “off-site” location.
A copy of the plan can be found at the Phyllis Bornt Branch Library, 948 State St., Schenectady.

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