Apr 30, 2010 11:14 AM by Letitia Walker
WASHINGTON (AP) - Two Air Force planes have been sent to
Mississippi and were awaiting orders to start dumping chemicals on
the oil spill threatening the coast, as the government worked
Friday to determine how large a role the military should play in
The C-130 Hercules cargo planes, specially designed for aerial
spraying, were sent Thursday from the Youngstown Air Reserve
Station in Ohio, said a spokesman there, Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.
The planes and crews were standing ready in case they're needed,
said Maj. David Faggard, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon.
"If this mission comes to pass, it would be first time we have
done this in a real world scenario," Barko said, adding that the
910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown has trained for such a mission and
has done other spraying such as mosquito-abatement flights after
Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Navy also has sent equipment for the cleanup. But no larger
Pentagon role in the crisis has been announced. Officials said
Friday that the military was still talking with the Department of
Homeland Security to lay out what needs there are in the cleanup
that the nation's armed forces might be able to fill.
The Navy said Thursday that some of equipment had already begun
arriving in Gulfport, Miss. It was 66,000 feet of inflatable boom
and seven skimming systems. Fifty contractors who use the equipment
also were being sent.
The help is being provided under an existing pollution cleanup
agreement from the 1980s between the Navy and Coast Guard,
officials said. Booms are commonly used as a floating barrier or
fence to control the movement of spills in bodies of water.
The Navy also was making facilities available for use as staging
areas. In addition to the base in Gulfport, the Pensacola Naval Air
Station in Florida was being used as a staging area for more booms,
recovery barges, tractor trailers, pumps and other related
equipment used by Coast Guard contractors, Lt. Myers Vasquez, a
Navy spokesman, said.