California Government Cleans Up Dry Cleaners Under New Initiative

October 27, 2022

California Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Legislature have set aside $500 million for the Cleanup in Vulnerable Communities Initiative (CVCI), a multi-year investment in communities that suffer from multiple sources of contamination. Of this, at least $152 million has been set aside in the initial phase for cleanup at current and former dry-cleaning sites in underserved communities, particularly within 50 feet of sensitive receptors such as schools, day care centers, and senior centers.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the regulatory agency directing and enforcing the site cleanups, has identified the first set of 112 sites across California. The DTSC may have already informed some they will be initiating a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment to understand their site history followed by limited subsurface soil, soil gas, and/or groundwater testing. These initial investigations will be conducted by DTSC’s environmental contractors using CVCI funds. If the business is confirmed a high-risk to sensitive receptors, DTSC will ask the site owner/operator (Responsible Party) to agree to a Consent Order if they are found to have the financial resources. If they do not have adequate funds, DTSC may use CVCI funds to begin site cleanup. In this scenario, the Responsible Party would not have to sign a Consent Order but a Unilateral Order, issued by the DTSC, which gives less flexibility in how the cleanup will take place.

Under a Consent Order, the site owner/operator has the right to choose their own environmental consultant to perform the required site cleanup activities under the oversight of the DTSC. Using their own consulting firm provides them with the obvious benefit of having more control over the investigation and cleanup which gives them better coordination of work with their business activities and potential cost savings.

How can we help?

Our team of technical experts includes experienced and licensed geologists, engineers, scientists, and more. CEC personnel have years of experience with similar cleanups in California that offer the following specific benefits:

  • CEC will always be your advocate when it comes to representing you in negotiations with the DTSC;
  • Complete familiarity with applicable DTSC/California regulations, use of approved investigative techniques and protocols;
  • CEC’s experts utilize  relevant technologies and innovations to investigate and design site cleanup systems that can result in quicker project completion and potential cost savings (e.g., use of in situ injection/extraction technologies with enhancements to expedite contaminant destruction);
  • We design the investigation and cleanup activities around business activities to reduce disruptions during construction and installation of the remedial systems, which can help prevent revenue loss;
  • Our technical experts, including risk assessors, may be able to negotiate a higher cleanup level with DTSC, which may reduce or eliminate the need for site cleanup and result in reduced cost;
  • We will look to reduce costs by seeking multiple bids and using local contractors for subcontracted work;
  • Our personnel is experienced in obtaining permits from local agencies to keep the cleanup process moving forward.

To get the conversation started with us, please reach out to our regional representatives:


Hari Gupta, P.E. | Senior Principal, 951.317.2395


Darrell Thompson


Darrell Thompson | Vice President, 760.977.8106



About CEC Sacramento

Established in 2021, CEC’s Sacramento office expanded our existing California operations. Office Lead Darrell Thompson, a solid waste engineer specializing in landfill gas operations and maintenance, has 28 years of experience, 24 of which have been focused on helping clients in California. Darrell and his team are actively building CEC’s presence in San Diego as well. Together, the team will utilize their relationships in California to help CEC grow while establishing relationships with our existing clients from this new base. 

About the Author

CEC Staff

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) provides comprehensive market-oriented consulting services to advance client strategic business objectives. CEC is recognized for delivering innovative design solutions and integrated expertise in air quality, civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, manufacturing infrastructure services, survey/geospatial, waste management, and water resources.

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