The state Department of Environmental Conservation has declared the location of a Delmar dry cleaning business a superfund site and said the designation is probably linked to a previous business there.
The DEC recently added 156 Delaware Avenue to its list of Class 2 superfund sites. A Class 2 site is one that presents a significant threat to public health and/or the environment, according to DEC.
The site is the former location of Roxy Cleaners and is now occupied by Best Cleaners. The DEC said elevated levels of tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, dichloroethene and vinyl chloride were detected at the site, chemicals that are associated with the dry cleaning process.
Agency spokeswoman Maureen Wren said Roxy is being treated as the originator of the contamination.
Based on the investigation thus far, that's likely," she said.
Best Cleaners owner Tim McCann said his business does not use any of the chemicals mentioned in the determination.
"We've never used in our history any chlorinated solvent in any location," he said. "It's not the kind of thing that you take lightly."
His business took over the Delmar store from Roxy in 2005, and McCann said that cleaner did not use the chemicals at the time he moved into the location, either. He noted it was possible they had been used in the past, though, given the former popularity of such chemicals in the dry cleaning industry.
The DEC's Environmental Site Remediation Database indicates the highest levels of chemicals"including tetrachloroethene, or PERC, as it is commonly known"were found in the groundwater. PERC was found at maximum concentrations of 140,000 parts per billion, as compared to the state standard of 5 parts.
"The presence of the contamination in the groundwateris what brought it to the level of a superfund designation," said Wren.
Wren said in cases of contamination at dry cleaners, chemicals generally enter the groundwater through spillage. The area in question is serviced by public water.