Officials of a Tooele hazardous-waste company think contaminated kiln dust from the old Portland Cement plant on Redwood Road might be just the thing to stabilize caustic waste at their plant and have proposed moving the dust for about $15 million.

However, state officials refuse to take the proposal seriously until the company's cost estimates become more solid.U.S. Pollution Control Inc. - a subsidiary of Union Pacific - approached state officials recently with the idea of moving the 500,000 cubic yards of dust from 1000 S. Redwood Road to USPCI waste cubicles near Tooele.

Dr. Harry L. Gibbons, director of the Salt Lake City-County Health Department, in a May 23 letter to Salt Lake County Commissioner D. Michael Stewart, said the cost of encapsulating the dust on site or moving it to a landfill near Magna would be about $13 million.

The move to Tooele had been considered before, but Gibbons estimated then it would cost $50 million. When USPCI came knocking this time, it offered to take the dust for much less, said Kent Gray, director of the new Utah Bureau of Emergency Response and Remediation.

Gray revealed USPCI's latest proposal at a meeting of the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Council Wednesday afternoon in the City-County Building, but he downplayed the reliability of USPCI's latest price tag.

"That was a figure they threw out, but it didn't include a lot of costs," he said. "I'm not sure it's really a proposal. It's more like a discussion paper. They haven't gone far enough (with a proposal.) It's got to be viable and look like it's going to go somewhere."

USPCI views the dust as an excellent stabilizer for waste already stored near Tooele, Gray said.

Officials at the meeting hailed USPCI's tentative offer as political salvation. If USPCI could reduce the cost of moving the dust to near the $13 million price tag for encapsulating it on site, the EPA would be satisfied, and local and state politicians could bear glad tidings to the constituents who have protested keeping the dust on site or moving it to Magna.

"If USPCI could do it for $13 million, it would be done. It would happen," said Kenneth L. Alkema, director for the Utah Division of Environmental Health.

Salt Lake politicians don't want the dust encapsulated at the site, currently the EPA's favorite option. Politicians from Magna and Salt Lake County don't want it dumped near Magna.

The kiln dust is laced with traces of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and molybdenum. The fine dust covers nearly 90 acres, three to seven feet deep.

"Although present in low concentrations, the heavy metals present could harm public health if large quantities of the dust are inhaled," an Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet said.

State and county officials reviewed several other sites at the meeting, including various parcels of private and state land. But nothing was decided. Daniel L. Bauer, director of the solid waste disposal division of the Salt Lake County Public Works Department, didn't want to give up 30 acres of land at various other county landfills to store the kiln dust because the loss of the land would "substantially cut down on our 25-year life" for waste storage.

"If we can't find a parcel, EPA will be back looking at (encapsulating the dust) at it's present location," Gray said. Gray told the Deseret News after the meeting that he had hoped the county would agree to give up 30 acres at one of its landfills.