July 31, 2018 — A statewide auto body shop has agreed to pay $1,525,000 in penalties following an investigation started in Sacramento over improper disposal of hazardous materials.
The settlement with Cooks Collision and 15 district attorney’s offices was announced on Monday.
The automotive repair company was found to have improperly stored and disposed of hazardous materials and hazardous waste generated in the ordinary course of its business, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
The settlement requires Cooks Collision to pay $900,000 in civil penalties, $325,000 for investigative costs and additional money to fund research and compliance programs, the Sacramento DA said.
As part of the settlement, $150,000 will fund a Chico State University research project on recycling vehicle repair byproducts and using plant-based alternatives to petroleum-based strippers and solvents, the Yolo County District Attorney said in a news release.
Another condition of the settlement requires Cooks Collision to have a full-time employee dedicated to environmental compliance and training.
The various district attorney’s offices said Cooks Collision was cooperative throughout the investigation and implemented training and compliance programs at its 38 locations. Cooks Collision will continue to fund a $150,000 compliance program for the next two years, the press releases said.
The judgment wraps up a case that began in 2013 when undercover investigations found that the auto body repair shop was illegally disposing of hazardous industrial waste in trash containers in Sacramento County, according to the Sacramento DA’s office.
This included auto body sanding dust, sanding pads, automotive paints, clear coats, solvents and non-empty aerosols.
Inspections by Sacramento County’s Environmental Management Department determined that Cooks Collision facilities here were out of compliance with laws regulating hazardous materials and waste handling and storage. Further investigation found that the same practices were occurring at Cooks locations statewide.
The case was brought by the DA offices of Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Marin, Napa, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Ventura and Yolo counties, where Cooks Collision’s auto body repair shops are located.
Cooks Collision couldn’t be reached for comment.