For release: June 8, 2010
Hermiston Man Receives Probation, Fines for Environmental Crimes at Hermiston Dry Cleaner Site
David Shepherd formerly operated Best Cleaners, which has closed; Shepherd had previously been penalized $15,420 by DEQ
Hermiston resident David P. Shepherd, who formerly operated the now-closed Best Cleaners at 176 W. Hermiston Ave., Hermiston, recently pled no contest in Umatilla County court to misdemeanor criminal charges of failing to file annual dry cleaner reports with the state of Oregon. Shepherd received 18 months probation and more than $2,000 in fines. Shepherd is also required to perform 50 hours of community service and is not allowed to conduct dry cleaning business during the term of his probation.
Shepherd had a long record of failing to comply with environmental laws for operating his dry cleaning business. Shepherd also failed to comply with state waste minimization requirements and failed to pay state dry cleaner fees, which are used to help Oregon clean up contaminated dry cleaning sites around the state. In May 2008, DEQ issued Shepherd a compliance order and $15,420 in civil penalties for a series of violations, including:
· Failing to submit required weekly inspection reports for perceptible leaks of the dry cleaning system
· Failing to retain records regarding purchase and consumption of the toxic solvent perchloroethylene (“perc,”), and failing to provide documentation of perc machine inspection, monitoring and repair
· Failing to annually submit required dry cleaning reports regarding compliance with Oregon’s waste minimization requirements, air quality requirements and other dry cleaning requirements.
After Shepherd failed to appeal or pay the penalty or otherwise respond, officials from DEQ’s dry cleaning, hazardous waste and air quality programs inspected the property in the fall of 2008. DEQ then issued Shepherd a Pre-Enforcement Notice for failing to comply with the previous order and for additional violations found on the property. DEQ referred the case to the Oregon State Police in the spring of 2009. That fall, Oregon State Police issued Shepherd two misdemeanor citations, for failing to submit his annual reports for 2007 and 2008. Each citation carried a possible maximum fine of $10,000.
DEQ’s dry cleaner and environmental cleanup programs have been working with the site’s property owner to join the state’s Voluntary Cleanup Program to address contamination at the site. The property owner has not been cited in this case and has been fully cooperating with the state. DEQ has not yet established the full extent of contamination at the site, but site assessments of the property in 1999 and 2004 confirmed that groundwater at the property was contaminated with perchloroethylene. According to DEQ, the property has been the scene of various dry cleaning operations for several decades until Best Cleaners closed on Sept. 20, 2009.
Last fall, Shepherd was evicted from the property and the property owner paid for the remaining chemicals and waste on the property to be properly disposed of.
Dick DeZeeuw, coordinator of the Oregon Dry Cleaner Program, said cases such as Best Cleaners in Hermiston are rare but point out the need for the state’s 300 dry cleaning operators to follow regulations designed to protect public health and the environment. Regulations focus on keeping dry cleaning solvents out of the environment. Cleaning up contaminated sites is difficult and expensive, and perchloroethylene presents a risk to human health. Perc is a toxic chemical used by most dry cleaners. Prolonged exposure to the solvent has been shown to affect human organs and is listed as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.