The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality offers body shops the opportunity to receive free voluntary consultations under the agency's Oklahoma Star program.
The consultations are part of the DEQ's outreach to auto body repair shops, a program that has many purposes, agency Environmental Program Specialist Patrick Riley said.
Visits with auto body shop managers increase awareness of regulatory requirements like the federal "auto body rule" that went into effect in 2011 as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's effort to reduce hazardous air pollutants.
Visits are also an opportunity to discuss environmentally friendly business practices with managers and alert them to opportunities like the Oklahoma Star program that recognizes businesses for going above and beyond in areas like conservation and recycling.
"It's kind of an opportunity to visit with them in a non-regulatory format," Riley said.
The DEQ started its outreach last year when it contacted auto body repair shops in the Oklahoma City metro area where about 50 shops participated, Riley said. Earlier this spring, the agency began focusing on shops in the Tulsa area and is in the process of reaching out to local businesses, the Tulsa World reported.
"We're very pleased with the success so far, and we're anxious to contact as many (shops) as possible," Riley said.
Currently about a dozen shops in the Tulsa area are participating in the program.
DEQ awarded Bill Knight Collision Repair a gold star in the Oklahoma Star program after inspecting the shop. Dustin McElyea, who works at the shop, said the recognition shows customers that the shop doesn't generate too much waste and is responsible with the waste that it does generate.
According to the DEQ, smaller facilities around the state are often unaware of regulatory requirements outlined in the auto body rule.
Changes include the way businesses could clean spray guns and the locations where they could paint motor vehicles and miscellaneous parts.
Now, spray guns must be cleaned in an enclosed cleaning container that collects used cleaning solvent so that the spray does not go into the atmosphere. Previously, shops could clean spray guns by running the cleaning solvent through them in an open space.
Also, shops can no longer spray vehicles on the shop floor. Vehicles must be painted in an enclosed spray booth or station, and parts must be coated in a booth or station with a full roof and at least three complete walls or side curtains. Spray booths and stations must also be ventilated properly.