Dry cleaner fined for discharges

The owner of a dry cleaning business was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, serve one-year probation and pay a $1,000 fine because employees flushed hazardous chemicals down the toilet at the business.

Jason Prejean, owner of One Low Price Cleaners on West Willow Street, pleaded guilty in July to the negligent discharge of pollutants for failure to ensure the spent dry cleaning chemicals were disposed of properly.

U.S. District Judge Richard Haik on Monday also ordered that the company pay a $2,500 fine.

The case began in May 2009 when the Lafayette Fire Department responded to a nearby business reporting a strong chemical odor.

Federal prosecutors allege that in the investigation that followed, employees at the dry cleaning business admitted flushing water from the dry cleaning machines down the toilet and into the sewer system.

The wastewater contained the common dry cleaning chemical perchloroethylene, and environmental regulations require that it be disposed of as a hazardous material.

The spent chemicals had at one time been picked up by a disposal company, but the dry cleaning business had stopped paying for the service, according to a summary of the allegations that Prejean signed when he pleaded guilty in July.

Prejean’s attorney, Kevin Stockstill, said the dry cleaning business no longer does cleaning on site, so there should be no future environmental problems.

“Basically, now the dry cleaning is outsourced to another company,” he said. “There certainly won’t be any other issues for chemicals at this facility.”

A former manager at the business, Jason Bruno, was sentenced earlier this year to 300 hours of community service in the case.