WATERBURY, Conn. — Connecticut’s attorney general and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner say they have won a temporary injunction against a G&K Services industrial laundry facility alleged to have illegally emitted toxic substances threatening public health.
G&K operates a facility at 15 Boyden St. in Waterbury, where it launders, among other things, soiled shop towels and print towels containing various solvents, oils and greases that contain volatile organic compounds (VOC).
In response to complaints of strong odors from people living near the G&K plant, DEP inspectors found “serious violations of regulations governing emissions into the air and the handling and storage of materials classified as hazardous waste,” says DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy in a joint press release with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
“G&K is airing its dirty laundry – fouling our air with toxic industrial laundry emissions that illegally and dangerously threaten public health,” asserts Blumenthal. “Today’s court order will block G&K’s potentially harmful and illegal emissions.”
In violation of its DEP permits and state regulations, G&K allegedly failed to install proper air pollution control equipment or obtain a new source review (NSR) permit for the construction and operation of its industrial dryers, which are considered a stationary source of air pollution, the press release says.
Under the April 9 court order, the company must shut down its shop and print towel washer and dryers, beginning at noon Wednesday, until a permanent injunction is ordered or corrective action is taken.
Shayn Carlson, G&K Services’ director of investor relations, says the company remains committed to the health and well-being of its employees, its customers and the communities that it serves. The temporary injunction relates only to the Waterbury plant’s processing of shop towels and print towels, Carlson says, and the plant will continue to process garments, mats and other products.
“We’re working diligently and cooperating with both the attorney general and the Department of Environmental Protection to address any outstanding issues,” Carlson adds.
“DEP’s investigation of the business practices of G&K Services offers a vivid reminder of the importance of environmental laws and the need to enforce them,” says McCarthy.
According to a state toxicologist, this type of facility, when properly controlled, may be allowed to release small amounts of VOCs that when mixed with outdoor air at proper height will not lead a public health risk, the press release says. Uncontrolled emissions pose a significant public health threat, particularly to the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with medical conditions, a state toxicologist says in an affidavit.