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Dockers may not handle fruit treated fro Medflies

Union leaders say 2,300 longshore-men will refuse to handle overseas shipments of citrus fumigated to kill the Medfly because of the fumigant's alleged harmful side effects.

California's fumigation program -- using the chemical ethylene dibromide -- was established as a compromise so Japan would accept fruit from outside California's Medfly quarantine area and keep the state's $120 million-a-year trade with the Japanese alive.

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Meanwhile, the A. E. Staley Company, the only manufacturer of the key chemical used in the nightly aerial spraying, is asking the US Department of Agriculture to take responsibility for damage claims resulting from the spraying.