Ground Water Canada

News
Project to improve dry-cleaning chemical handling receives government support


March 2, 2017
By Ground Water Canada

Toronto – Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada Catherine McKenna announced $131,519 in funding for a national project that will help dry-cleaning operators understand their role in preventing pollution and adopt better chemical handling practices to help reduce the amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment.

Toronto’s Seneca College will carry out the project, which involves developing an education program for dry-cleaning operators, the ministry said in a news release. This includes a website, a social media campaign and three videos to promote pollution prevention in the dry-cleaning industry. After the program is implemented, operators will be surveyed to determine whether behaviours have changed. The project is expected to be complete in January 2018.

Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene and commonly called PERC, can enter the environment via air emissions during dry cleaning and other industrial processes or make its way into ground water from spills or improper waste disposal. Once released, it can damage plants and contaminate ground water, the release said.

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The Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 reduce PERC releases into the environment from dry-cleaning facilities by requiring operators use more efficient dry‑cleaning machines, minimize spills, and manage the collection and disposal of residue and wastewater that contain perchloroethylene. 

Funding for the awareness project comes from the Environmental Damages Fund, a federal government program administered by the ministry. The fund follows the polluter-pays principle and ensures that court-awarded penalties are used for projects with positive environmental impacts, in the manner intended by the court.

Funding comes specifically from nine separate court penalties levied against dry cleaners convicted for environmental infractions in Canada.