• Chief Warrant Officer John Roberts, 8th U.S. Army U.S. Safety Command here, takes part in the cleaning effort by using a cloth rag to scrub crude oil and charcoal powder off of a rock at Baeknipo Beach.  The charcoal dust was used first, to soak up the oil in an ecologically safe manner. Oil not collected by the charcoal appeared as wet spots on the rocks.  Some areas were contaminated so badly by the Hebei Spirt oil spill Dec. 7 that even after the charcoal application, the entire rock was still slick.

    Soldiers help clean up Korean Oil Spill

    Chief Warrant Officer John Roberts, 8th U.S. Army U.S. Safety Command here, takes part in the cleaning effort by using a cloth rag to scrub crude oil and charcoal powder off of a rock at Baeknipo Beach. The charcoal dust was used first, to soak up the...

  • Cleaning up oil spilled on Baeknipo Beach, Taean, South Korea, was a multiple step process.  Republic of Korea agencies first covered rocks along the coast with charcoal dust to soak up the oil in an ecologically safe manner.  Korean and 8th U.S. Army volunteers then collected up any excess oil with cloth rags.  The rags and any contaminated sand were then collected in thick bags, the bags hauled to a collection point, and then taken away by vehicle to be destroyed safely.

    Soldiers help clean up Korean Oil Spill

    Cleaning up oil spilled on Baeknipo Beach, Taean, South Korea, was a multiple step process. Republic of Korea agencies first covered rocks along the coast with charcoal dust to soak up the oil in an ecologically safe manner. Korean and 8th U.S. Army...

  • Sgt. David Craig, United Nations Command Honor Guard, Kim, Yong-chul and his brother Kim, Chan-guk help clean excess oil off of charcoal-covered rocks at Baeknipo Beach, Taean County, South Korea Dec. 19. Craig is part of the 8th U.S. Army relief effort for the West Sea oil spill. Soldiers volunteered to help their host nation clean up the worst oil spill in the countries history. A Hong-Kong-registered oil tanker, the Hebei Spirit leaked 10,500 tons of crude oil after it collided with a vessel off the western coast of South Korea Dec. 7.

    Soldiers help clean up Korean Oil Spill

    Sgt. David Craig, United Nations Command Honor Guard, Kim, Yong-chul and his brother Kim, Chan-guk help clean excess oil off of charcoal-covered rocks at Baeknipo Beach, Taean County, South Korea Dec. 19. Craig is part of the 8th U.S. Army relief...

  • Pvt. James Leasau, a sharpshooter with the United Nations Honor Guard, wipes excess oil off a charcoal-covered rock at Baeknipo Beach, Taean County, South Korea as part of the 8th U.S. Army relief effort for the West Sea oil spill Dec. 19. Wiping the crude oil off the rocks helps prevents the redistribution of the oil to contanimate the ocean and other beaches and the ocean as the tide comes in and out.

    Soldiers help clean up Korean Oil Spill

    Pvt. James Leasau, a sharpshooter with the United Nations Honor Guard, wipes excess oil off a charcoal-covered rock at Baeknipo Beach, Taean County, South Korea as part of the 8th U.S. Army relief effort for the West Sea oil spill Dec. 19. Wiping the...

  • Spc. Jeremy Jones, United Nations Command Honor Guard assault gunner, cleans excess crude oil off charcoal-covered rocks at Baeknipo Beach, Taean County, South Korea as part of the 8th U.S. Army relief effort for the West Sea oil spill Dec. 19.

    Soldiers help clean up Korean Oil Spill

    Spc. Jeremy Jones, United Nations Command Honor Guard assault gunner, cleans excess crude oil off charcoal-covered rocks at Baeknipo Beach, Taean County, South Korea as part of the 8th U.S. Army relief effort for the West Sea oil spill Dec. 19.

  • Hundreds of bags filled with oil-covered rags and contaminated sand from the Hebei Spirit oil spill Dec. 7 are collected up by voulnteers from the Republic of Korea and 8th U.S. Army Dec. 19 at Baeknipo Beach, Taean, South Korea.  Cleaning up oil spilled on Baeknipo Beach, Taean, South Korea, was a multiple step process.  Republic of Korea agencies first covered rocks along the coast with charcoal dust to soak up the oil in an ecologically safe manner.  Korean and 8th U.S. Army volunteers then collected up any excess oil with cloth rags.  The rags and any contaminated sand were then collected in thick bags, the bags hauled to a collection point, and then taken away by vehicle to be destroyed safely.

    Oil spill clean up efforts visible through hundreds of bags

    Hundreds of bags filled with oil-covered rags and contaminated sand from the Hebei Spirit oil spill Dec. 7 are collected up by voulnteers from the Republic of Korea and 8th U.S. Army Dec. 19 at Baeknipo Beach, Taean, South Korea. Cleaning up oil...

  • 8th U.S. Army Soldiers and Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army from U.S. Army Troop Command Korea use a human chain to move bags of oil-covered rags and contaminated sand from the rock-cleaning on the coast (seen in the background) to a collection point higher on Baeknipo Beach, Taean, South Korea.  U.S. Soldiers began helping with the clean up just 12 days after the Hebei Spirit oil spill Dec. 7.

    Human chain removes oil spill debris

    8th U.S. Army Soldiers and Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army from U.S. Army Troop Command Korea use a human chain to move bags of oil-covered rags and contaminated sand from the rock-cleaning on the coast (seen in the background) to a collection point...

More than 25 Soldiers from U.S. Army Troop Command Korea assisted in oil clean up efforts off the coast of Taean Wednesday as the first part of an eight-day, 8th U.S. Army Operation that marks the largest and latest efforts of U.S. Soldiers assisting the Republic of Korea in their time of ecological crisis.

Since the oil spill Dec. 7, the worst ecological disaster in Korean history, Soldiers from several units have volunteered on their own to help with the clean up effort along the western coastline, including the 19th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 577th Military Police Company and firefighters from Installation Management Commands at both Camp Red Cloud and Camp Stanley.

Over the next two weeks, groups of about 30 volunteer Soldiers will be transported by bus to Taean, issued protective gear and, side-by-side with Korean workers of all ages, clean up the crude oil that has washed ashore. These Soldiers will come from the 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), 35th Air Defense Artillery, 501st Sustainment Brigade, 18th Medical Command and 1st Signal Brigade. All these units cleared their Soldiers to take time off of their normal duty work schedule in order to assist the ROK clean up effort.

"It's a great way to help our host nation and our neighbors," said Staff Sergeant Shawn Wilson of the United Nations Command Honor Guard at Yongsan.

The 8th U.S. Army Civil Military Operations team provides translators and liaison officers that not only coordinate with Taean civil authorities but also send hourly reports to an 8th Army Watch Team about the conditions, progress and health of the Soldiers.

"Any kind of natural disaster, we try to help any way we can," said Sergeant Major Ron McDaries, 8th U.S. Army CMO sergeant major. "We're all in this together."

Each day, Soldiers gather at 7 a.m. to receive a quick training session about the health risks presented by the oil spill and the proper safety measures to take. They ride a bus to the site, don protective gear such as air masks, rubber boots and overalls, and spend the rest of the day either cleaning oil from soccer-ball-sized rocks on the coast or carrying away heavy bags filled with oil-stained rags and sand.

"When the tide comes in, it pulls away contaminated sand and oil off the rocks, then spreads it out to other beaches, contaminating other areas," said Joe Sellen, host nation specialist for the 8th U.S. Army CMO. "The contaminated rocks have to be cleaned off, and bags full of contaminated sand taken away for the same reason."

The first mitigation stage the ROK government implemented was to cover the rocks in charcoal to absorb the oil in an ecologically safe manner. The Soldiers helped with the second stage, using rags to remove excess oil from the rocks that appeared as wet spots on the stone. At 3 p.m. the Soldiers clean themselves, change clothes, load up the buses and return to their duty stations. A new group of Soldiers repeats the process the next day, though no trips are planned for the four-day weekends.

"I volunteered because it's just a good opportunity to go out, help the South Koreans and show them the good side of the U.S. Army," said Sergeant Christopher L. Haigh, 8th U.S. Army CMO.

"It was definitely worth it," said Specialist Kiernan Custodia, of the UNC Honor Guard. "When we showed up it seemed to boost morale, and that made me feel good."

The operation was made possible by donations from several Korea-based companies. Chairmain Kim, Jong Jo, CEO of Sewoo Food Corporation donated Ramen Noodles for the Soldiers to eat during lunch. Chairman Shin In-Bum, CEO of Centax Marketing provided the overboots, groves and drinking water. Chairman Choi, Jong Keun, CEO of Phoenix Construction, provided the buses used to take the Soldiers to Taean.

"I'm proud of the volunteer Soldiers that are here," said Lieutenant Colonel Whitaker, 8th U.S. Army CMO Chief of Staff. "They're making a good contribution to the relief effort."

The oil spill was caused when the Heibei Spirit, a Hong Kong-registered tanker, collided with a crane-carrying barge that had broken free of its tugboat, causing an estimated 10,500 kiloliters of crude oil to leak from the tanker's load of 263,000 kiloliters. Soldiers across the peninsula began asking their commands how they could help, so the 8th U.S. Army created a proactive program to provide support, guidance and coordination between the volunteers and the agencies already on scene. The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. State Department have been on the scene for more than a week already, per request of the ROK government.

Page last updated Wed December 19th, 2007 at 22:24