Hopewell residents curious over steam discharge from old dry cleaners

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HOPEWELL, Va. -- Clouds of steam from an empty storefront, near a Hopewell neighborhood, alarmed residents.

They were scared that the steam contained harmful chemicals. CBS 6 Problem Solvers reached out to the Department of Environmental Quality about the issue.

"I'm very concerned, I'm concerned for me and I'm concerned for the children that live on this street,” said Angela Collins, who lives next door to the property.

Those who live and work near the old cleaners on 15th Avenue in Hopewell said they were surprised by the sight.

"Today's the first day with steam,” said Susan Daniels.

Tuesday morning steam escaped from this crane, and wafted across the streets and to nearby homes.

"I expected them to vent their process into the air, I just, no warning was a little surprising,” said Randy Saunders.

According to the Virginia DEQ, the site used to house a commercial laundry facility.

Right now there is a voluntary clean up to remove dry cleaning chemicals from the soil.

While some living here in this area say they have concerns about what they saw Tuesday morning, others say they're just glad to see the site finally getting cleaned up.

"I really don't have any concerns, it's a good thing that they're cleaning the lot up, which I applaud them for doing that,” said resident David Roberts.

The DEQ released a statement:

"Only steam is being released. The contractor is testing the boiler. Typically this would be done in-ground through the augur, but a gear broke which prohibited them from drilling, so the testing is above ground."

While DEQ says this is just steam many who live and work nearby said they deserve some sort of warning about the working going on at the location.

"Preferably that should come from the company because we don't want to take that role, but we do want our residents to be informed and we'll also talk to DEQ about it,” said Mark Haley, Hopewell City Manager.