Thanks in part to the efforts of the Wisconsin Fabricare Institute (WFI), Wisconsin drycleaners now have a new Environmental Response Fund for reimbursement of many costs for remediation of spills and contamination. Funded by fees from drycleaner licenses and chemical purchases, the new fund is available to both active and in-active drycleaning facilities that meet criteria and pay applicable fees.

According to Joe Phillips, Executive Director of the WFI, the legislation has been written and rewritten to meet the needs of industry, government and the environment. Signed by Governor Thompson as an amendment to the State’s budget plan, the new Fund will provide retroactive reimbursement for cleanup as far back as January 1, 1991. The Fund also will reimburse for emergency cleanups and, unlike most other such programs, will allow reimbursement for "Interim Remediation" – purchase and installation of equipment to begin clean up, such as sparging and "pump-and-treat" systems. From an industry point of view, says Phillips, the new Fund represents a positive change.

"It is form of insurance and it provides a sense of security," says Phillips, adding, "We have a situation in Wisconsin where we have developed a good relationship with the Department of Natural Resources, with environmental groups and with other programs. We have a feeling of cooperation so fewer dollars are being spent on enforcement then if we were adversaries."

To establish the Fund, operating facilities will pay license fees equivalent to 1.8 percent of all gross receipts on both drycleaning and laundry business. Owners of in-active facilities wishing to participate also will pay this fee which will be determined as the average of such fees collected from active facilities. In addition, a flat $5 per gallon fee will be paid on perc, including current stock, and fees on Stoddard solvent will be assessed at $.75 per gallon. According to estimates by the WFI, approximately 350 drycleaning companies in the state will contribute about $2 million annually to the Fund, accumulating as much as $70 million during the planned 35-year life of the program.

Wisconsin is not the first or only State to enact such legislation. In fact, both its neighbors, Minnesota to the west and Illinois to the south, have similar programs. Below is a comparison of the States’ plans, what they offer and what drycleaning facilities contribute to them.

For more information about the new Wisconsin Drycleaners’ Fund, contact Joe Phillips at the Wisconsin Fabricare Institute, (414) 529-4707.