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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — U.S. airmen taking their turn to help clean up South Korea’s worst-ever oil spill were told to keep an eye on possible health hazards, an Osan Air Base spokesman said Wednesday.

About 90 volunteers were traveling to Taean, on South Korea’s southwest coast, on Thursday and Friday.

On arrival they were to receive safety briefings and be issued protective clothing, said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Marvin Krause, a spokesman for Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing.

“They’re concerned about site safety, of course,” Krause said.

The spill occurred Dec. 7 when a barge collided with a Hong Kong supertanker seven miles off shore. Some 10,500 tons of oil spilled along the peninsula’s western coast.

Eighth Army soldiers took part in the cleanup for more than six days last month, but reported no injuries or illnesses directly associated with the cleanup.

The soldiers also were issued protective gear and were briefed on safe oil spill cleanup methods.

According to local news reports, South Korean environmentalist group Green United and the Environmental Medicine Research Center of Korea University polled 211 South Korean volunteers on Dec. 15 and Dec. 16. About half reported strong headaches, respiratory problems, vomiting, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, according to the reports.


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