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United States Files Civil Suit Against Long Island City Dry Cleaner for Violating Hazardous Waste Management Requirements

June 11, 2009

A civil complaint was filed in federal district court in Brooklyn against White-Sun Cleaners Corporation, its president and owner, Insun Yun, and, d/b/a KY 34th Corporation, for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The defendants are owners and operators of a dry cleaning and laundry company located at 47-38 34th Street, Long Island City, New York.

The complaint was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2.

According to the complaint, the defendants improperly treated and stored hazardous waste containing tetrachloroethylene (“perc”) at their dry cleaning facility. Perc is a hazardous substance used in dry cleaning operations. In 2000, EPA inspected the White-Sun dry cleaning facility in Long Island City and found numerous RCRA violations relating to the management, treatment, and storage of perc. EPA then filed a complaint against White-Sun and Insun-Yun, seeking compliance with applicable requirements and civil penalties. Pursuant to the terms of a Consent Agreement entered with the government in 2002, White-Sun and Yun agreed to be penalized, to comply with the applicable law and regulations, and to implement a supplemental environmental project (SEP). The SEP included requirements that, by specified deadlines, the defendants would install a dry-cleaning machine that did not use perc, submit periodic progress reports to EPA demonstrating their operation of the new machine, and publicize the new machine. However, subsequent inspections by EPA revealed continued violations of RCRA and failure to comply with the Consent Agreement.

As alleged in the new complaint, the defendants failed to comply with RCRA’s requirements for the management of perc-contaminated waste, including (1) failing to test the waste to determine if it was hazardous, (2) failing to properly close and label containers containing perc-contaminated wastes, and (3) storing containers of perc-contaminated waste without a hazardous waste permit. Compliance with these requirements is vital to ensure the health and safety of residents of the neighborhoods where dry cleaning facilities are located.

The complaint also alleges that White-Sun and Yun fraudulently transferred the assets of White-Sun to, d/b/a KY 34th Corporation, to avoid their obligations under the previous Consent Agreement with EPA. In its complaint, the government seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendants to comply with all applicable requirements, monetary penalties of up to $37,500 for each day of violation, and stipulated penalties for failure to comply with the 2002 Consent Agreement.

“The violations identified in the complaint demonstrate a serious and longstanding disregard for the environment and for public health and safety,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “This Office is committed to vigorous enforcement of the laws regulating hazardous wastes, particularly against repeat offenders.”

“Tetrachloroethylene, or ‘perc,’ poses serious risks to human health,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Pavlou. “That is why EPA educates dry cleaners on proper management of this chemical and takes tough actions against those that refuse to comply with the law.”

The government’s case is being litigated by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Newman and Assistant Regional Counsel Beverly Kolenberg of EPA.

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