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Apr 30, 2010 11:14 AM by Letitia Walker

Military Helps with Cleanup of Oil Spill

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 cleanup.

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.

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