BOSTON — G&K Services Co., in conjunction with its subsidiary Alltex Uniform Rental Service of Manchester, N.H., has agreed to settle claims by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it violated the Clean Air Act, the agency reports.
G&K has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $65,000; to undertake a Supplemental Environmental Project with a value of at least $220,000 to replace old, polluting wood stoves in southern New Hampshire with new, cleaner models; and to install equipment at its facility to remove approximately 20 tons per year of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
G&K has agreed to help homeowners replace their inefficient and polluting wood stoves with EPA-certified wood stoves or other cleaner, more efficient home heating equipment such as gas or propane heaters. The company will provide funding to households as an incentive to help replace pre-1988 woodstoves, which are a significant source of indoor and outdoor air pollution.
“Southern New Hampshire will most certainly benefit from this wood stove change-out project,” says Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office. “Homeowners will get help with buying new wood stoves, which will burn cleaner and more efficiently. This project will create green jobs, reduce fuel consumption, and improve air quality in communities by reducing the harmful pollutants that come from wood smoke.”
G&K operates an industrial laundry that, among other services, washes and dries towels that have been used by its customers to wipe oils and solvents from machinery and equipment. The soiled towels contain VOCs and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that are emitted during the cleaning process.
Alltex installed new laundry equipment at the facility in 1997 without installing air pollution control equipment and without applying for a permit required under the Clean Air Act’s new source review provisions, according to the EPA. In 2007, G&K Services acquired Alltex, and continued to operate the facility without the required controls and permit to limit VOC emissions.
The consent decree, lodged in federal court and requiring approval by the court, requires the company to install emissions control equipment to significantly reduce VOC and HAP emissions, to conduct emissions testing, and to come into compliance with the Clean Air Act by getting the proper permits. The EPA action grew out of an EPA inspection of the facility in July 2008.