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Dry Cleaner Project Experience

The staff at Wilcox has considerable expertise and experience with Dry Cleaners. Our Wilcox project team has collectively worked on hundreds of Dry Cleaner and chlorinated solvent sites. We have found that project decisions must be grounded in sound science but must also consider the people and communities affected by the project.

Wilcox prides itself on bringing in projects on budget and on time saving business owners time and money. While this remains a core tenant in bringing value as an environmental consultant, it does not truly differentiate Wilcox from our competitors. Our clients have told us that our work has delivered greater impact than the previously defined business model that we as an industry have been traditionally measured against.

In the project examples highlighted below we tell a more complete story. These dry cleaner project examples highlight the differentiating impacts demonstrated by Wilcox. While we embrace the responsibility to control cost and future risk for our clients, we strive to make a difference in leaving properties and communities safer for residents living in proximity to historically impacted properties.  Our proven project management process enables and encourages future economic development and community growth.


Wilcox Geographical Project Footprint


Project Background: A vacant former dry-cleaning facility located within a strip mall containing other retail establishments. Site was being managed by another consultant and as a result of their actions the Insurance carrier decided to transfer the project to Wilcox.

Project Description: Migrate prior consultant’s investigative data stemming from a release of chemical solvents, manage public relations, complete site characterization, and secure a No Further Action determination.

Project Summary: The insurers controlling the project were displeased with the initial consultant’s work.  Among other things, the prior consultant withheld actionable indoor air data from tenants in the common strip mall. One of these tenants later contacted local media, resulting in ensuing news coverage and intense regulatory scrutiny. The project was subsequently transferred to Wilcox, at which time we promptly addressed the tenants to ease public relations and negative press for the Site. Wilcox promptly assimilated the prior consultant’s work information using our advanced data management capabilities, making critical corrections as necessary. Wilcox then continued site characterization activities and discovered certain aspects of the prior consultant’s work, including the installation of a vapor mitigation system was unnecessary. During our work, inaccuracies were corrected, Site Characterization was completed, and the Site was issued a determination of No Further Action from the regulator by means of a modified institutional control applied to a smaller portion of the much larger parcel. By correcting prior, inadequate work, and avoiding the need for active remediation, the Site was closed within 2 years of Wilcox acquiring the project, resulting in over $500,000 in cost savings.

Project Impact: In addition to the time and financial savings outlined above there were numerous other impacts realized. The insurance carrier’s financial and public perception risks were mitigated by timely project closure. Neighboring tenants and regulators needs were addressed, and concerns were quickly put at ease.

We were also able to bring a unique solution to the property owner by bringing a creative approach to an ERC (Environmental Restrictive Covenant). Traditionally we would be constrained to submitting an ERC limiting the property use for the entire property in question. We were successful in receiving an ERC that was limited in scope to isolate the risks to the tenant space formerly operated as a dry cleaner. This allowed unimpacted parts of the property to be unencumbered by a restrictive ERC thus making it easier for the property owner to receive maximum value for his investment.


Project Background: Site history goes back to 1887. It is located in a major metropolitan area and has at times housed various dwellings, a coke and coal yard, bakery operations, and dry-cleaning operations.

Project Description: Immediately address vapor intrusion, manage public relations, and initiate groundwater and soil investigation.

Project Summary: The property currently consists of a multi-story apartment complex, constructed in 1988, in downtown Indianapolis. Based on information obtained during an environmental investigation for a nearby property transaction, impacts were noted in the vicinity and a release reported to IDEM. In response to IDEM’s Notice of Liability and Information Request Letter, indoor air, ambient air, and sub-slab samples were collected from the Site. Based on the presence of tetrachloroethene and associated breakdown products above IDEM screening levels, IDEM determined that an immediate remedy was necessary. Wilcox designed and installed a mitigation system to induce negative pressure across the entire slab to interrupt the vapor intrusion (VI) pathway. The system consisted of 16 horizontal wall extraction pits (EPs) and 18 vertical floor EPs. The EPs were routed through conveyance piping terminating at 14 roof-top blowers, capable of producing 50-inches water gauge pressure. The most recent analytical results of the indoor air testing indicate that the system is operating as designed and the VI pathway has been effectively mitigated. The system was installed without any interruption of occupancy.

With the VI pathway interrupted, soil and groundwater source investigations are underway.

Project Impact: The site is a currently occupied apartment complex and Wilcox ensured occupant safety by installing an extensive vapor mitigation system that ensured the vapor pathway to contamination was incomplete.

Wilcox also was challenged by regulators to continue an investigation that increased the scope to include source properties outside of the parcel. Being that the property is located in a major urban area with extensive history of historical contamination, Wilcox felt that it was inappropriate to increase the scope of the investigation. Wilcox chose to step away from the project to protect the property owner, the attorney, and the insurance carrier from liability not caused by the property in question.


Site Background: Property was an un-secured and abandoned dry cleaners that was considered a community eyesore. The site also posed a health and safety concern to the community due to its state of disrepair and lack of public site access restrictions.

Project Description: Expedited site investigation of a release of chemical solvents, immediately address vapor intrusion and private well impacts, manage public relations, and complete site characterization.

Project Summary: Initial activities completed by Wilcox included potential receptor and exposure pathway identification, abandoned waste identification and removal, and a subsurface investigation to determine the presence/absence of contaminants. Once confirmed, a vapor intrusion investigation was completed at an adjacent residential structure and mitigation efforts to interrupt the vapor inhalation pathway were completed. Initial community involvement and outreach efforts included a residential potable water well survey with door-to-door interviews and correspondence with city, county, state, and federal officials. Due to the urgent nature of potential exposure to receptors, Wilcox designed and implemented expedited site characterization activities consisting of collecting real-time subsurface contaminant data, potable water well sampling, and vapor intrusion sampling and mitigation. Wilcox response to potable water well sampling results included installing a carbon filtration system, connecting residences to municipal water services, and providing hotel accommodations and drinking water to property owners. Characterization activities are still ongoing, and the most recent efforts are anticipated to achieve dissolved contaminant delineation. The use of expedited characterization techniques over conventional iterative approaches is anticipated to save the client over $250,000 and achieve site characterization approval several years faster.

Project Impact: There were many stakeholder impacts realized through effective project management. In addition to a sound technical process, the insurance carrier’s risk and future liability was mitigated by effective communication and proactive actions with local residents within the community. Also, by engaging in active partnerships with case lawyers and state regulators Wilcox was able to avoid lengthy and costly project delays.


Project Background: The site is a former dry cleaner that is located within an economically depressed neighborhood that has been converted and has been re-purposed as a retail location.

Project Description: Conduct groundwater and soil investigations and mitigate vapor and groundwater exposure.

Project Summary: The site is a former dry-cleaning operation in central North Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana. The surrounding land use is mixed residential and commercial. A release of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (cVOCs) related to dry cleaning solvent was discovered during an initial investigation by Wilcox in 2007. Wilcox subsequently delineated the extent of cVOC impacts. A multi-phase extraction system was installed at the site in February of 2010 to address cVOC impacts. The groundwater plume had remediated to the extent practicable and the system was taken out of operation in December 2013. In addition, chemical reduction injection events were completed in July 2014 and May 2016 at the site to enhance both abiotic and biological reductive processes within the treatment zone. Due to elevated sub-slab methane concentrations a passive venting system was installed at the Site in April 2019. The passive venting system consists of three collection pits.

An Exposure Pathway Assessment and No Further Action Request are currently in review with IDEM.

Project Impact: The site ownership has changed hands several times throughout the timeline of the project cleanup process. Wilcox has been successful in ensuring a continuity of insurance liability coverage by working closely with the insurance carrier, the attorney, and the original responsible party. This has resulted in minimizing costly delays in an ongoing environmental clean-up effort.



Project Background: Site is a former dry-cleaning facility that has been converted to a pick-up and drop off location only. The building is a multi-use building that operates as the drop off and pick up location and shares space with an active community center. The site is also located near many occupied residential homes.

Project Description: Conduct groundwater and soil investigations and mitigate vapor and groundwater exposure.

Project Summary: Wilcox was contacted regarding a potential release from former dry-cleaning activities at a property in southern Indiana. The subject property contained environmental impacts potentially harmful to the environment and human health. Wilcox evaluated the possible impacts from historic operations utilizing the most current soil, groundwater, and air investigation technologies. Wilcox completed the delineation of soil and groundwater contamination, performed a successful pilot test for in-situ chemical reduction (ISCR) and implemented a Remediation Work Plan based on full-scale ISCR application to address soil and groundwater contamination.  In addition, Wilcox successfully installed a sub-slab depressurization system (SSDS) to mitigate indoor air impacts on an adjoining alternate use portion of the property.  Residual sub-slab vapors intrusion was addressed by performing intensive slab repair and sealing. The Site is currently occupied, with investigation and sampling activities on-going to monitor the effectiveness of the ISCR.

Project Impact: While this project is ongoing Wilcox has taken many steps to ensure the safety of the people affected by the presence of the contaminant. Work continues within the drop off and pick up location. Wilcox has sealed the slab in the drop off and pick up location to ensure that hazardous vapors do not affect the workers on site. Wilcox also manages a separate sub-slab vapor mitigation system to ensure that people working in and visiting the community center are safe from hazardous vapors. Wilcox also maintains an aggressive water monitoring schedule to ensure that local residents are not affected.


Project Background: The site is a historical dry cleaner that has operated since the 1950’s and still operates to this day. It is in a downtown area of a mid-sized historical community and it is surrounded by occupied residential properties.

Project Description: Complete groundwater and soil investigation, manage public relations, develop Site-specific screening levels, and mitigate soil, vapor, and groundwater exposure.

Project Summary: Dry-cleaning operations have operated at the site since the 1950s. The property is approximately 0.16 acres in size and located in a residential/commercial area within the City of Vincennes.

During the investigation of the contaminant plume, Wilcox advanced 108 borings for the collection of soil and groundwater samples and defined the nature and extent of the contamination. The contaminant plume was found to extend approximately 3,000 feet from the source, through a residential neighborhood.

Vapor intrusion investigations were conducted at several nearby residences to ensure that the inhabitants were not exposed to hazardous vapors. Based on the results of the indoor air sampling, vapor mitigation systems were installed at the site and a neighboring residential property. Lines of evidence (LOE) were used to determine site specific screening levels for off-Site vapor intrusion (VI) risk. Due to the ubiquitous surficial clay/silty clay layer observed throughout the investigation area, the initial VI screening level for this Site was adjusted by an attenuation factor of two for sites with laterally continuous fine-grained soils overlying the groundwater plume, as identified in the EPA OSWER vapor intrusion guidance. These adjusted screening levels provided a basis to determine Site-specific risk and allowed the off-Site vapor intrusion pathway to be deemed incomplete.

Through cooperation with the local city government, and coordination with IDEM, Wilcox obtained approval for a Remediation Workplan (RWP) to address the impacts to the environment. The approved RWP consisted of source removal via excavation of impacted soil, and injection of a site-specific suite of reagents to destroy the remaining contaminants in the saturated soils and groundwater. The reagents were injected through a total of 164 injection points, to create five permeable reactive barriers (PRBs) that will address the residual, dissolved contamination. The remediation is currently in its first of 2-years of post-remediation groundwater monitoring.

Project Impact: As this was a currently operating dry cleaner Wilcox remediated the site without a costly disruption of business. Another consideration was addressed in installing a vapor mitigation system that would protect workers from exposure.

In the course of our investigation is was also discovered that contamination had extended through a large portion of the residential community. We worked in conjunction with city officials and utilized an expedited site characterization (ESC) strategy to quickly determine the extent of the residential contamination. If we had used a traditional step approach the nature and extent of the contamination would have taken much longer to investigate and greatly increased the possibilities of residents being impacted by the hazard. Residential vapor mitigation systems were installed in nearby residences to prevent exposure to the occupants.


Project Background: Site is a former dry-cleaning operation that is in a rural economically depressed small town. The town at one point had a centrally located transportation canal and was home to multiple industries. Since then the canal has been filled in and the city has experienced industrial flight.

Project Description: Complete groundwater and soil investigation and mitigate vapor and groundwater exposure.

Project Summary:

The property currently consists of a single-story commercial building, formerly housing dry cleaning operations from circa 1955 through 2002, in downtown Connersville. Based on information obtained during an environmental investigation for a property transaction, impacts were noted in the vicinity and a release reported to IDEM. Minimal soil impacts have been identified; however, low-level groundwater impacts extend several thousand feet down gradient, and indoor air concentrations of PCE exceeded screening levels. In cooperation with the City government, an environmental restrictive ordinance (ERO) was emplaced for the southern half of the city, which prevents the installation of private potable drinking wells and requires connection to the municipal water system to mitigate groundwater exposure.

To prevent vapor intrusion at the site, a 20-millimeter-thick coat of Retro-CoatTM Vapor Intrusion Coating System (Retro-Coat) was applied across the slab throughout the Site building. Retro-Coat has chemically resistant materials to reduce vapors from migrating through a slab.

A further site investigation is planned to determine the source of the impacts and residual sub-slab vapors.

Project Impact: In addition to our traditional clean-up efforts Wilcox worked closely with many stakeholders. In the course of our work on the site Wilcox worked closely with the city. This cooperative relationship enabled Wilcox to work directly with the city to secure a city ordinance that would place an ERO (environmental restrictive order) on the southern half of the city. This ordinance limited future financial liability to the city, the site’s responsible party, and to the insurance carrier for any groundwater impacts.


Project Background: Site is a family owned historic dry cleaners where the current owners are preparing for retirement and wish to hand down ownership to family without encumbering them with any future financial or environmental liability.

Project Description: Expedited site investigation of a release of chemical, manage public relations, design and implement pilot test to remediate groundwater impacts, and propose a remedial strategy to prevent potential exposure to receptors.

Project Summary: Wilcox utilized expedited site characterization (ESC) techniques during the investigation phase due to the potential for vapor intrusion in a residential area. The use of expedited techniques resulted in characterizing the Site approximately 1 to 2 years faster with an estimated cost savings of over $100,000 when compared with the iterative and conventional multi-step approach to investigation. Wilcox was also able to screen-out multiple residences from vapor intrusion evaluation saving the client additional time and money and reducing potential liability exposure. Wilcox conducted meetings with town, county, and state officials, property owners, and other stakeholders throughout the characterization phase as part of the overall community outreach, involvement, and communications strategy.

Wilcox completed a groundwater pilot test to evaluate the efficacy of in-situ chemical reduction to stimulate reductive dichlorination where the dissolved contaminants are progressively converted to harmless by-products. Post-design investigation groundwater sampling results indicated up to a 93% reduction in dissolved contaminant reduction in the evaluation area. Additional remedial design efforts included collecting high-resolution groundwater elevation data from the monitoring well network using pressure transducers to provide additional confidence and understanding of flow dynamics and plume behavior.

The full-scale remedial strategy is anticipated to be approved by Spring 2020 and is designed to reduce dissolved contaminant concentrations.

Project Impact: In the course of working on this project another high-profile project, within close proximity, was brought to the attention of the local community. Wilcox’s aggressive ESC strategy was able to clearly delineate the current site contamination from the other site in question. This mitigated risk to the insurer ensuring that they would not be incurring liability from the other site. In addition to this, Wilcox has partnered with concerned citizens of the local community to be a technical resource.


Site Background: Former dry-cleaning property located in the middle of a high profile municipal Main Street corridor. For over a decade the municipality has been investing deeply in the revitalization of their Main Street from a traditional manufacturing hub to a mixed use residential, business, and retail destination. This was one of the few remaining properties that had yet to be redeveloped.

Project Description:  Investigation and remediation of soil and groundwater

Project Summary:  Wilcox served as consultant for a former dry-cleaning Site acquired by a local municipality and targeted for redevelopment. The subject property contained environmental impacts preventing unrestricted redevelopment activities from moving forward. Wilcox was able to work with the municipality, attorney, Responsible Party (former owner), and insurers to secure funding through the general liability insurance policy of the previous businesses that operated at the property. The project was able to commence immediately with remediation activities at the Site. Wilcox had previously completed the delineation of soil and groundwater contamination, then prepared a Remediation Work Plan to address the intended use of the Site. The RWP included a full-scale ISCR application to address soil and groundwater contamination, with shallow source area excavation of impacted vadose zone soils. The strategy focused on an outcome allowing for redevelopment of the property while minimizing cost to the redevelopment commission and tax-paying citizens. The Site is now ready for redevelopment; a new business will be able to contribute back to the local economy while improving quality of life for local citizens.

Project Impact: Wilcox was able to execute a client driven expedited approach to clean the site quickly and safely amid a very busy location and time of the year. We did this without disruption to the town, town events, businesses, or citizens during their busiest season for economic tourism. Wilcox worked with all stakeholders as a team to meet regulatory requirements, finish ahead of schedule and complete the work under budget. The site is now poised to be re-developed into a multi-use development that will directly align with the municipal developmental vision for the property and town.


Project Background: Site is a former dry cleaner that is currently operating as a neighborhood grocery store. Site is in a historically economically distressed neighborhood. In investigating a neighboring property an environmental impact was discovered and traced back to the site. Wilcox was engaged to evaluate and clean up the site.

Project Description: Complete groundwater and soil investigation and mitigate vapor and groundwater exposure.

Project Summary: The site is a former dry-cleaning facility located on the near-northeast side of Indianapolis. One building, which is leased to multiple commercial tenants, is located on the property. Based on soil analytical results obtained during an unrelated environmental investigation conducted on an adjacent gasoline station property to the east, a release incident was reported for the site. Indoor air sampling identified an immediate need to interrupt the vapor intrusion pathway. Wilcox performed diagnostic pilot testing and designed a vapor mitigation system (VMS) consisting of horizontal extraction pipes advanced outside the building, under the slab.

Wilcox subsequently delineated the extent of cVOC impacts and an air sparge/soil vapor extraction (AS/SVE) remediation system was subsequently installed at the site. The AS/SVE system operated for approximately 5 years reducing COCs onsite by 90%. Currently seeking an on- and off-Site Environmental Restrictive Covenant (ERC) to formally close the incident.

Project Impact: Wilcox was able to successfully remediate the contaminant and mitigate hazardous vapor impacts so that the site could safely be able to be utilized as a neighborhood grocery store. In a neighborhood that has been historically economically distressed, having a local resource for groceries brings a great deal of convenience and value to local residents.

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