SOUTH BURLINGTON -- Six members of the Vermont Air National Guard returned to work Friday after being hospitalized due to exposure to a toxic fuel spill, Guard officials said.

Guard spokesman Maj. Chris Gookin said the Guard members were given first aid treatment and later transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care in an ambulance after experiencing a bad taste in their mouths. They were later released from the hospital and returned to work.

Gookin said maintenance crews and the Hydrazine Response Team have cleaned up the site and the area is safe.

The colorless chemical hydrazine is used in the Guard’s F-16 fighter jets’ Emergency Power Units. The spill occurred at 9:35 a.m. Friday during normal maintenance operations at the base, the Guard said. The guard notified the media at about 10:15 a.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies hydrazine as a probable carcinogen. Short-term exposure can cause "irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, pulmonary edema, seizures, and coma in humans," the EPA states on its website.

The Guard shares space at the Burlington International Airport.

Director of Aviation Gene Richards said there is no threat to the airport because the spill occurred at the Guard site. He said the Guard notified him of the spill at 10:55 a.m.


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