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Taking The Uncertainty Out Of Perchloroethylene Leak Detection

With grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Small Business Assistance Program assisted dry cleaners from across the state of Oregon to “get a jump on” a newly updated perchloroethylene (PCE) dry cleaner rule which requires an enhanced leak detection and repair program (LDAR) for area sources.

The LDAR requires area source dry cleaner owners to detect leaks from equipment using a halogenated leak detector in addition to the traditional sight, touch and smell which is not very reliable. The TIF XP-1A with carrying case and additional tip replacements were purchased with the grant money awarded and distributed to those dry cleaners who attended one of a series of workshops or one-on-one training sessions. Each participant received a certificate of training and was given a leak detector free of charge for a savings of approximately $255 to the small business owner.

Staff mailed surveys or completed site visits to approximately 98 owners for feedback on the detection equipment and its use. Of these voluntary surveys the DEQ was able to achieve a 78% response rate. A spreadsheet has been developed to capture survey answers so staff can condense the information and use it to determine the overall effectiveness of the program.

Although use of leak detection equipment at most small dry cleaners is relatively new, many owners have found it easier to comply with rule requirements using a detector, and are finding and repairing more incidental leaks than in the past. They have also expressed a renewed piece of mind about the health of the environment they work in.

A smaller portion of money from this same grant was used as an incentive to entice two medium sized PCE dry cleaners in the Portland Air Quality Management Area to take out their old machines in exchange for hydrocarbon models. Some of the benefits of the switch are:

  • Cost of the solvent plus fees reduced from $27 per gallon to $11.
  • Hazardous waste disposal fees reduced from $250 per barrel to $143.
  • Decreased environmental risk.
  • Reduced energy costs associated with the absence of a solvent still.
  • Reduced costs associated with the re-cleaning of garments due to swirls and imperfections. And
  • Dramatic improvement in the emotional well being and perceived health benefits to their employees and customers.

This change in solvent technology has not only been good for the small businesses bottom line, but employees and customers are responding positively to the new changes and productivity and customer satisfaction are on the rise.

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 For more information about Small Business Assistance call Bryan Smith 503-229-5376 or email

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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
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The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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