Utah emergency personnel attended a three hour-course at the Amoco Oil Co. refinery in Salt Lake City this week to learn how to cope with spills and leaks of hazardous materials from railroad tank cars.

Their school was a giant tank car named the Amoco Safety Train which has been especially modified to represent most of the tank cars rolling on America's rails today.Teacher Carl D. Bossard and other Amoco safety experts told police officers, firefighters, highway patrol troopers, deputy sheriffs and others from throughout the state, in courses conducted Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, that the first thing they need to do if a tank car is involved in an accident or is seen to be leaking is to determine what is in the tank car.

"The car may not be carrying hazardous materials and may be loaded with lubricants, edible oils or food products. On the other hand, the tank car could be filled with one of several hundred hazardous chemicals, fuel oil or acid," Bossard said.

"If the tank car is part of a moving train, the conductor will have waybills that will specify what is in the tank car. If the tank car is parked in a yard, the yardmaster will know its contents. If the car is parked on a siding, there may be no one at hand locally who knows what is in the tank car, so you will have to contact officials of the railroad on which the car is parked to find out what is in it."

Bossard explained how tank cars are loaded and unloaded and how they are marked and identified. In addition, students were taught how to release tank car brakes and how to set them again, how to shut off a variety of valves to stop leaks and how to build gaskets and leak-stopping plugs in an emergency.

Amoco's Salt Lake refinery manager Allen Kozinski said the Safety Train started its tour of America in March 1987.