DERF Goes Broke (Again): Historical Insurance Remains Source of Funding

For the second time in 5 years, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (WDNR) Dry Cleaner Environmental Response Fund (DERF) has run out of funds necessary to keep pace with claims from dry cleaners dealing with perc cleanups. In the meantime, the WDNR has expressed no intention to slow down its enforcement activities.

The language from WDNR Hydrogeologist Theresa Evanson, P.H.’s letter to drycleaners specifically states, “Despite the projected DERF revenue shortfall and anticipated delays in reimbursements to eligible drycleaners, state law still requires that those responsible for contamination or who own contaminated property undertake investigation and cleanup of those properties.” This is an alarming statement to many drycleaners already involved in the DERF and uncertain when they’ll receive DERF aid. It’s even more disturbing if you’re a dry cleaner who’s trying to refinance or sell his business and who was counting on the DERF to be there if due diligence detected any contamination.

As many may recall, a few years ago the Wisconsin Fabricare Institute (WFI) fought to secure appropriations of $6.2 million as a loan from an underutilized Environmental Improvement Fund. While the WFI is working with state legislators to once again find funding, we want to remind people that old insurance policies, normal CGL insurance policies, may provide a small business with funding to pay for site investigations and cleanups.

Call us!  We may be able to help you, just like we have helped countless drycleaners across Wisconsin.