Dry Cleaning Leak Leaves Giant Plume of Chemicals in Groundwater Beneath Virginia Community

More than a decade ago, a Virginia dry cleaning business stopped using a potentially hazardous chemical after learning of a leak, but an environmental impact report has just been released.

Residents of Fairlington Glen, an Arlington community of about 350 condos and town homes, didn’t learn about the giant plume of chemicals in the groundwater under their homes.

“For a while they thought it was just right there, and then in checking they realized it had started to migrate,” Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey said. “And it took them a while to get permission and follow and go into Fairlington to start to map it out.”

The biggest threat from the chemicals is inhalation — if vapors somehow seep into homes much like radon gas can.

Five homes are at risk and monitoring systems have been installed to track and remove the vapor.

Garvey said she's confident the Department of Environmental Quality and other groups involved will stay on top of any hazard.

“My comfort level is pretty high,” she said. “I want to make sure that the few homes really affected that they get taken care of and that we get that off-gassing taken care of and continue to monitor it.”

Monitoring wells will be constructed in Fairlington Glen in the fall and will monitor the chemical plume and its impact perhaps for decades to come.

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