The spectre of a hazardous materials accident harming citizens or the environment in Carbon County has always concerned public safety officials.
In the past, the equipment and training to handle a problem with local help has been limited.
But the situation is quickly changing.
The Carbon County Sheriff's Office recently obtained a grant to purchase equipment to deal with hazardous materials emergencies. The law enforcement agency also secured a trailer to store the equipment.
"The concern over Olympic security sparked a movement to get this kind of equipment into places where a dangerous HAZMAT event could cause problems with the games in Salt Lake," explained Sheriff James Cordova.
"We have a major highway, rail line and the power plants in our area, so we were some of the prime recipients of such monies," added the Carbon sheriff.
The initial grant request was submitted under the banner of Carbon and Emery counties.
However, the two counties subsequently received separate grant funding to expend on the project.
Carbon County's portion totaled $53,000. But in the world of HAZMAT equipment, the money is not a large fund to work from.
"People hear that figure and think that we have all this money to spend on the project," pointed out Cordova. "But the equipment that is used to deal with any kind of hazardous threat is very expensive."
With the grant funding, the county law enforcement department has purchased 20 level A protective suits and six self-contained breathing apparatuses.
"Those purchases took almost all the money," indicated the Carbon sheriff.
The trailer is a 20-foot storage unit where the materials will be put so that the equipment can be taken to the scene of an incident. The unit can be pulled by any of the SUV vehicles the sheriff's office currently operates.
"Soon, we will be looking for a response vehicle where the equipment we have purchased, along with other materials will be placed and transported to sites where they are needed," stated Cordova. "Then the trailer will become a portable decontamination unit."
As far as training goes, the leader of the county's hazardous response team will be Deputy Kyle Kulow. The sheriff's detective has undergone vigorous training in the area of handling hazardous material spills and accidents.
The sheriff's office is also working closely with fire departments in the county to train other individuals to respond to local HAZMAT situations.
"For instance, Robert Welch from Helper is getting certified, too," pointed out Cordova. "It is important for the training to continue for anyone dealing with these problems. The situation with hazardous materials changes constantly and personnel need to stay up to date on those changes."
Eventually, the county sheriff hopes the hazardous response team will have the equipment and know how to deal with almost any problem.
"However, if there is a great big situation we will still need to call in the state. Those kinds of accidents require a great deal of equipment and manpower," concluded Cordova.