It looked like an afternoon at the beach, complete with bodies bounding after a valleyball and pausing just long enough for refreshments on a hot summer day.

But it didn't take long to figure out that this sporting event was unique. If the white "moonsuits" worn by the participants weren't enough of a hint, the goggles and tanks on their backs were a dead giveaway.Though it looked like pure fun, the "game" was no joke. Participants were finishing a week of hazardous waste training at Northern Engineering and Testing in North Salt Lake. The players, dressed in a full wardrobe of protective gear, were simulating the exertion they might expect during an actual toxic waste spill.

"It's a lot different than trying the equipment on in an air-conditioned classroom," said Marianne Cook, marketing director for NET. "This way, they get a better feel of what it's like to actually use the equipment." The outdoor demonstration Friday followed a week of classroom work and lectures delivered to the 40 workshop participants. The purpose of the course was to satisfy the 40 hours of waste management training required of workers by the government's Occupationsl Safety and Health Administration.

Classroom topics ranged from instruction on the use of protective clothing to the identification of types of materials constituting a health hazard.

"Our first goal was to satisfy OSHA's requirements," said instructor Jerry Riding, senior hydrologist at NET. "Beyond that, we wanted to provide a good, all-around training experience for the people, and by the positive reaction, I think we have."

Another outdoor laboratory Friday featured the drilling of a test well and use of a pisometer monitoring device to detect volatile liquids or gas plumes. About midway through the procedure, the rig had to be shutdown for repairs. "Now that's just like the real thing--it broke down," remarked one of the onlookers.

Despite the temporary setback, participants were positive about the experience. "It's definitely worthwhile that's why it's the law," said Bill Moore, a worker from the Bureau of Safety and Health Welfare.

As for the volleyball game, Shelly Quick of the Weber-Morgan County Health Department summed it up best--"it was hot."