From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published January 27, 2014 04:21 PM

Update on the El Toro contamination clean up

The federal Superfund program seems to go on forever for many sites. So it is good news that a large portion of the contamination at the former EL Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Irvine, CA has been deemed remediated enough to be removed from the Superfund list.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week deleted more than 1,900 acres of the site from the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. Hazardous wastes at this major portion of the site were cleaned up through activities that included soil sampling and excavation. To date, the Navy has spent approximately $165 million on the cleanup, and anticipates that the remaining work will cost an additional $50 million.

"This milestone is what the Superfund program is all about—ensuring land is free of contamination so it can be put back into use," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "The creation of greenspace and sports facilities at the El Toro site will benefit the more than 3 million residents living in Orange County."

Past military operations at the site contaminated the groundwater with volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethylene, and soil contamination included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The EPA determined that all environmental impacts at a total of 112 locations were thoroughly investigated and the appropriate cleanup actions were taken to protect human health and the environment. Other than periodic review, no further cleanup is necessary on this portion of the site.

Of the 1,900 acres deleted from the NPL list, 1,200 acres are owned by Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC which plans to redevelop the majority of the property for the construction of approximately 9,500 new homes and development of space for commercial, retail, and other non-residential facilities. The remaining 700 acres were transferred to the City of Irvine to develop the Orange County Great Park. The Great Park will include a tournament quality sports complex, a wildlife corridor, and a golf course.

The El Toro site covers approximately 4,712 acres in the City of Irvine in Orange County, Calif. Development of the site began in 1942 and the base was used to support the Fleet Marine Forces in the Pacific Ocean, and served as the major West Coast jet fighter facility. The site was added to EPA’s Superfund NPL list in 1990 and was officially decommissioned as an active base in 1999.

Aerial photo of El Toro courtesy MilSpeak Foundation.

Read more at US EPA.

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