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Tulsa World: CareerTech to help train contractors on EPA rules
May 3, 2010

Posted by David Lungren

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Tulsa World  

CareerTech to help train contractors on EPA rules

by JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Link to Article

WASHINGTON - While uncertainty continues to surround a new federal rule on lead paint, at least some relief appeared to be on the way for Oklahoma contractors desperate to be certified for work on older homes.

Several CareerTech centers have either stepped up or are considering doing so to offer the much-needed training by contracting with out-of-state firms.

Maria Doa, director of the National Program Chemicals Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, confirmed that Metro Technology Centers in Oklahoma City became only the second agency in the state to be certified to teach the course.

Melanie Stinnett, Metro Tech's chief environmental safety and regulatory affairs officer, said Friday that classes could begin within seven to 10 days.

"We are ready to go," Stinnett said.

She said Metro Tech has been contacted by those seeking certification in Texas, Kansas and Arkansas.

"Their training facilities are filled," Stinnett said.

That kind of community demand led Andy Beck, safety manager at Autry Technology Center in Enid, to enter a contract with a Kansas City firm to send someone in from Florida to teach the class.

"We actually had our first class Wednesday," Beck said, adding a second already is scheduled for May 14.

He said the Autry center, which was not the first to take that route, charges $180 for the daylong course.

Tulsa Tech Superintendent Kara Gae Neal said her center might follow others' lead.

Neal said CareerTech centers in Oklahoma would be the logical place to teach the course required by EPA's new rule, adding they could ramp up immediately for even weekend classes.

EPA's rule kicked in late last month.

Although its origin dates back several years, the rule requiring certification still caught many local contractors off guard.

And now they are scrambling to find an EPA-sanctioned course and avoid what could be a stiff fine for moving ahead with certain projects on homes built before 1978 without proper training on how to handle paint containing lead.

When the rule took effect on April 22, only one trainer had been certified in Oklahoma, and that agency was not offering classes to the public.

Doa said classes were being offered by as many as 10 traveling trainers in Oklahoma, with the first class in the state held in September. Some of their classes had to be canceled because of lack of interest, she said.

So far, Doa said, 53 classes have been held in the state, with about 1,200 people trained.

Still, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., continues to have questions and plans to use his ranking position on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to push the issue. Specifically, Inhofe's concern focuses on confusion among about exactly what the rule requires and whether the EPA will be able to meet the demand for certified renovators.

While he did not mention it in his letter, the senator also revealed he was working on legislation to delay implementation of the rule temporarily.

Doa opposes that proposal.

"We don't think it needs to be delayed," she said.

More than 8,000 classes have been held nationwide, with more 190,000 renovators trained, Doa said.

A delay of the rule's implementation, she said, would delay protection for children and their families.

"Lead is very toxic, and it is very toxic in low levels."


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