Las Vegas Sun

March 28, 2017

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Shopping center seeks reimbursement for pollution cleanup costs

Somerset Shopping Center

A small shopping center near the Las Vegas Strip says its real estate was contaminated by pollution from a dry cleaning operation over the years and it wants to be reimbursed for the cleanup.

The owner of the Somerset Shopping Center at 252 Convention Center Drive last week sued the late Lee Hudson, described in the lawsuit as the successor to Strip Cleaners Inc. doing business as Strip Cleaners or Hudson Cleaners.

Attorneys for Somerset say Strip Cleaners Inc. was formed in 1966 and that the "Hudson premises" at the shopping center has been occupied by dry cleaning establishments operated by various parties since 1966, including Strip Cleaners Inc.

A shopping center investigation of the property found the presence of the substance PCE (tetrachlorethene) in soil and groundwater exceeding limits established by the state and federal governments, the lawsuit filed in federal court says.

The lawsuit alleges "releases of dry cleaning chemicals have occurred and are continuing to occur at the Hudson premises and that such releases have impacted the soil and groundwater beneath the Somerset Shopping Center and adjoining properties."

"Plaintiffs made demand on certain of the Hudson defendants that such defendants assume liability and responsibility for the investigation and any remediation required as a result of the investigation, but such defendants, in response to such demands, have failed to assume such liability and responsibility to plaintiffs," the lawsuit charges.

In 2007, the state Division of Environmental Protection informed shopping center developer Irwin Kishner that its investigation found PCE was discovered in excess of the 5 microgram per liter federal limit in groundwater beneath Kishner Drive. This was part of an investigation completed for the adjacent Somerset Apartments at 3064 Kishner Drive.

"Plaintiffs are entitled to equitable indemnity from the Hudson defendants for costs and expenses incurred by them to investigate and remediate releases of dry cleaning chemicals at or from the Hudson premises," the suit charges.

The suit was filed by attorneys with the Las Vegas law firm Kravitz, Schnitzer, Sloane & Johnson Chtd.

Martin Kravitz, an attorney there, said Monday the shopping center hopes Lee Hudson's insurer will contribute to the costs of the cleanup that will involve the removal of contaminated soil and treatment of the groundwater. Cleanup costs could reach a high six-figure amount or even seven figures, he said.

Kravitz said the pollution poses no danger to people at the shopping center and the neighboring apartment building, but the site must be cleaned up because of environmental laws.

PCE, commonly used as a solvent by the dry cleaning industry, has been implicated in pollution at several dry cleaning sites around Las Vegas.

In 2009, the state filed suit against property owners over contamination from PCE used at an Al Phillips the Cleaners site, 3528 Maryland Parkway.

In that case, the state said PCE has spread more than 4,000 feet in a plume eastward past the Boulevard Mall, underneath a residential neighborhood and past the Las Vegas National Golf Course property off of Desert Inn Road. The Al Phillips business operated at the Maryland Square site from 1969 to 2000.

In all, the state Division of Environmental Protection has been working on more than two dozen PCE-contaminated sites in the Las Vegas area.

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