The Utah Transit Authority faces a $300,000 to $700,000 bill as its share to clean up toxic waste.

Years of taking old engine oil to the former Ekotek petroleum recycling company in northern Salt Lake City have landed the UTA in the midst of a cleanup effort, said Kenneth Montague, UTA finance director.Montague said the UTA took between 18,000 and 90,000 gallons of old engine oil to the plant between 1981 and 1986 and now could end up paying a proportionate share of costs to clean up the mess left when Ekotek went out of business.

Montague said companies that deposited waste petroleum with Ekotek have formed a "PRP," or potentially responsible parties committee, to allocate costs of the cleanup. They hope to complete the job themselves.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated cleanup costs at $25 million, and the PRP companies feel they can do it themselves for much less.

Ekotek, originally permitted to refine waste oil and store a small quantity of hazardous waste, was found to have stored hazardous liquids in hundreds of tanks, vats, pits and barrels, and much was spilled.

Ekotek's successor on the property folded in bankruptcy in 1988, and the EPA and state officials mounted a cleanup effort. Most of the liquid wastes have been moved to a disposal site.

UTA and other generators of the waste are in the EPA's fourth priority for paying for the cleanup, but companies higher on the priority list are bankrupt, said General Manager John Pingree.

There are 468 potential contributors of waste and thus 468 potential members of the PRP committee.