Tetrachloroethylene—also called perchloroethylene, PCE or perc—has been used in dry cleaning business for nearly a century. However, cleaning up contamination from this chemical on the current or former sites of dry cleaning businesses often requires a significant investment from the owners. Which key details about contamination liability should property owners know?

1. Cleanup can be costly.

Many owners of dry cleaning businesses or former dry cleaning business sites are unprepared for the cost of cleanup. Surveys estimate that cleaning dry cleaning chemicals from the soul or groundwater costs an average of $500,000. The cost to property owners can range from tens of thousands of dollars to several million dollars depending on the state of the property.

2. Previous owners or operators may share liability.

Owners of former dry cleaners may not be solely responsible for the cost of cleanup. Previous owners may be liable for the part they played in the contamination on the property.

3. Insurance policies may apply to the property.

Environmental insurance policies could provide protection against contamination, and these policies may offer you help in covering the cost of cleanup. “Cost cap” or “stop loss” policies address known contamination issues, while “property transfer liability” protects in cases where contamination either has not yet occurred or has not been discovered. These policies could help you cover the cost of cleanup.

If you have concerns about hazardous material contamination on your property, it can be helpful to work with a lawyer that has experience in environmental law, business law or insurance law. Your attorney can help you learn more about your legal options and protect yourself from bearing the costs of chemical cleanup alone.