3 OF 11 BARRELS FOUND IN ABANDONED TRUCK CONTAIN ASBESTOS

EARLY ANALYSIS SHOWS CONTENTS OF 8 OTHER CONTAINERS ARE NON-COMBUSTIBLE, BUT MORE TESTS FOR TOXICITY ARE NEEDEDInitial tests on the contents of 11 barrels left in an abandoned rental trailer truck turned up dirt mixed with asbestos particles in three of the drums.

Eight of the 55-gallon drums contained a watery-milky liquid. Tests Tuesday showed that the liquid is a non-hazardous water and detergent base with particles of asphalt.Capt. Max Berry, Salt Lake County fire marshal, said the on-site tests are designed just to identify broad categories of substances, such as pesticides or combustibles. More specific tests of the samples will be made in the next day or two in the state health lab.

Some of the drums were labeled as containing corrosive material, but the drums were not the right kind for storing corrosives, said Berry.

He said the County Fire Department is conducting the criminal investigation into who put the drums in the rental truck and abandoned it along 32nd West near 49th South.

"It was right next to a large Arabian horse-training barn."

Berry said a U-Haul employee who drives by there on his way to work noticed the truck and, checking its identification numbers, found that it had been rented from the Salt Lake dealer at 55 E. 39th South in July and never returned.

He recounted how the worker and his supervisor brought the truck back to their lot and, after discovering the drums, including one that was open, called county officials. The truck was taken Saturday to a lot behind the sheriff's substation at 4474 S. Main St., where it was kept locked and guarded until Monday's sampling.

The truck will remain under lock and guard until the full nature of the contents is determined, the fire marshal said, adding that the barrels pose no public hazard.

The two U-Haul employees' condition will be monitored, but so far they show no ill effects, Berry said. Hazardous-waste specialists doing Monday's sampling took no chances, though. They dressed in full protective gear and relied on oxygen tanks when they entered the truck.

Specialists from Murray City's fire and police departments, Salt Lake County's fire and sheriff's departments, Utah Highway Patrol and State Health Department cooperated in Monday's sampling. The cost of just the materials used Monday was at least $1,000, the fire marshal said, and that's not counting any of the salaries of the people involved.

Berry said public safety officials have very little information about what kinds of hazardous wastes are transported into and through Utah every day.

He said the Utah Highway Patrol and Salt Lake agencies are cooperating this month on a program to station hazardous-materials specialists on certain days at various ports of entry to compile data on the quantity and nature of hazardous materials being moved.