National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Texas county wins $2 million in contamination lawsuit
Soil and groundwater contamination from a drycleaning operation that was first discovered in 1996 has led to a $2.175 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by the Harris County, TX, district attorney’s office.
Harris County District Attorney Vince Ryan said the settlement is the largest sum ever in favor of a Texas county against owners and operators of a drycleaning business. Money from the settlement will be divided equally by the county and the state of Texas.
The lawsuit accused Redonda Properties and Seven BC, doing business as San Felipe Joint Venture, SF Properties, and PMSV River Oaks, L.P. of allowing drycleaning solvents to contaminate the soil and groundwater under and near the former Hallmark Dry Cleaners on San Felipe Road in the River Oaks area in Houston. The defendants were identified as past or current owners of Hallmark Cleaners which operated on the site from about 1976 through 1997.
“People who drop off their clothes for cleaning have a right to know if they are dealing with businesses that are contaminating the earth,” said Ryan. “We will continue to work to ensure that polluted groundwaters are properly cleaned up.”
The judgment assessed a civil penalty of $1.9 million against Redonda Properties; $90,000 jointly against PMSV River Oaks, LP and SF Properties, LLC; and $35,000 against Seven BC Co.
In addition, the state will recover attorney's fees of $10,000 against Redonda Properties; $10,000 against PMSV River Oaks, LP and SF Properties, LLC; and $5,000 against Seven BC Co.
Contamination of the soil and groundwater was first confirmed in 1996, according to court filings. The site was accepted into the Texas Voluntary Cleanup program in 1997. Site investigation continued over the next several years.
Groundwater testing at the site allegedly found levels of perchloroethylene; trichloroethene, vinyl chloride and 1,2-dichloroethene at levels “far above the cleanup standards,” according to court records. Remediation work stopped in 2001 and did not begin again until the site entered the Texas Dry Cleaners Remediation program in 2005.
Delays of 15 years in cleaning up the site after the discovery of contamination allowed the pollution to continue unabated, according to the district attorney’s filing in September, 2011. The contaminants had migrated from the site onto property owned by Harris County. The county said it had to expend funds to ensure that the contamination did not affect storm sewer outfall and a county flood control project.
The lawsuit was brought for violations of the water code and the Texas health and safety code.

Free spotting seminar in Baton Rouge
FabricClean Supply will offer a free drycleaning and spotting seminar in Baton Rouge, LA, this month.
The seminar will be Saturday, December 8 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at FabricClean Supply, 8666 Kiowa, in Baton Rouge. Chris Abercrombie, director of technical services at FabriClean, and Jim Welsh III, technical sales representative for Seitz, will lead the program.
The program will include live spotting and product demonstrations and cover why solvent levels matter, why detergents are important, load by load operations, pre-treating vs. pre-spotting and proper spotting tools and techniques. Refreshments will be served.
To reserve a seat, call (225) 237-3045.

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