Background: In a previous study, we showed that individuals who had participated in oil clean-up tasks after the wreckage of the Prestige presented an increase of structural chromosomal alterations two years after the acute exposure had occurred. Other studies have also reported the presence of DNA damage during acute oil exposure, but little is known about the long term persistence of chromosomal alterations, which can be considered as a marker of cancer risk. Objectives: We analyzed whether the breakpoints involved in chromosomal damage can help to assess the risk of cancer as well as to investigate their possible association with DNA repair efficiency. Methods: Cytogenetic analyses were carried out on the same individuals of our previous study and DNA repair errors were assessed in cultures with aphidicolin. Results: Three chromosomal bands, 2q21, 3q27 and 5q31, were most affected by acute oil exposure. The dysfunction in DNA repair mechanisms, expressed as chromosomal damage, was significantly higher in exposed-oil participants than in those not exposed (p= 0.016). Conclusion: The present study shows that breaks in 2q21, 3q27 and 5q31 chromosomal bands, which are commonly involved in hematological cancer, could be considered useful genotoxic oil biomarkers. Moreover, breakages in these bands could induce chromosomal instability, which can explain the increased risk of cancer (leukemia and lymphomas) reported in chronically benzene-exposed individuals. In addition, it has been determined that the individuals who participated in clean-up of the oil spill presented an alteration of their DNA repair mechanisms two years after exposure. © 2013 Fuster et al.