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Jun-09-2010 07:08printcommentsVideo

Only a Fool Would Let Their Kid Play in Irvine's 'Great Park'

Our Environmental Writer Roger Butow describes the conditions at our old base; MCAS El Toro, as "Toxic Soup de jour".'s Tim King interviewing Environmental Writer Roger Butow at their old base, MCAS El Toro in the city of Irvine, in Orange County, California.'s Tim King interviewing Environmental Writer Roger Butow at their old base, MCAS El Toro in the city of Irvine, in Orange County, California. Photo by Dexter Phoenix

(IRVINE, Calif.) - I can't believe we're still talking about this, and that somehow, some way, the city of Irvine is still trying to place a kids park atop one of the deadliest and most contaminated military bases in the world.

In the past, El Toro was used to kill... I mean, facilitate aviation Marines, like myself and Roger Butow, featured in the interview below.

Several other members of the staff like Robert O'Dowd of New Jersey, John Uldrich of Minnesota, and Chuck Palazzo of Da Nang, Vietnam, were either based at, or spent time aboard, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.

We know a lot about this place. For three years our team has been researching, documenting and reporting the information about this sad, wasted military base.

There are many deadly contaminants in the ground and water here, and while they pull the vast amounts of TCE (trichloroethylene) out of the base aquifers, and pass it out into the ocean at South Laguna Beach untreated and deadly, Roger Butow, who has been deeply involved in water issues through his group CleanWaterNow! describes the conditions at our old base as "Toxic Soup de jour".

We make light of it, but our friends have died and we only grow more irritated with the radical mishandling of the base by Irvine, bent on money only as always, with no concern for the people who may use this place in the future and actually let their kids play here.

The ground is so contaminated at El Toro, that in the summertime, the asphalt will adhere to you car tires, and make you think you have a nail in your tire.

It just melts to the rubber, because TCE is a chemical degreaser, and it works really astoundingly well, that is why the Marines used it to clean jet fighters for so many years.

Those toxic chemicals worked so well that if you dump this crap into the ground for 50 years or so, it melts its way right into the roadway.

"Come on Junior, let's go play on the TCE swing, then you can drink from the fountain, maybe ingest a little Benzene? How about the enriched Uranium slide, that should be great! Son, why are you glowing?"

What is happening at El Toro is a nightmare, it is a travesty, and I'm sure if you really examined it, it is also criminal.

There are some other big developments regarding a Grand Jury report on the Great Park.

I suggest checking this story after you watch our video: Grand jury took global view of Great Park By SEAN EMERY - THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address:

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LanceThruster June 10, 2010 5:52 pm (Pacific time)

I had been to El Toro myself for several air shows (twice with kids in tow no less!). It seems it would have been prudent to have a chemical dosimeter similar to those used to gauge radiation exposure. At a factory I worked at as a teen, a foreman supervised the dumping of several barrels (55 gal) of the solvent MEK down a small sinkhole. And the factory was adjacent to a public reservoir! Wells all along the San Gabriel River are contaminated from high levels of toxins, particularly MEK. Having recently seen the compelling Canadian documentary "Waterlife" about the health of the Great Lakes, it is frightening how completely our heads are buried in the sand in regards to toxins we pretend just disappear.

Van June 10, 2010 8:04 am (Pacific time)

Same thing is happening at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and I would guess it's happening all over the US and anywhere we have these bases. The coverup has gone on for more than 35 years. I would venture to guess the US taxpayer is on the hook for cleaning up the environment to the tune of a hundred billion dollars, probably much more. The way things were done before EPA and many years after was different than today. But the DoD still uses soverign immunity and they cover these things up. We don't have the money to clean this up now and the problem will only grow. The airstations are the worst by virtue of how they did things. TCE and many other toxics were used and there weren't any real disposal techniques other than to dump or burn. That is how it was done and probably still goes on where there is no one to observe. Just think what it would be like if there was no EPA. Like I've always said we have the most corrupt government money can buy.

Jim Davis, Veterans-For-Change June 9, 2010 11:41 am (Pacific time)

Tim, John, Roger, Bob… You all do a fantastic job keeping this in the daylight! But still, it just amazes me that our military not only deliberately poisoned all who served and worked on this base and 130+ other bases with these chemicals, known carcinogens but sold off the land to civilian contractors, cities knowing it was badly contaminated and did nothing prior to sale to solve the problems. But then for the individual contractors, and cities to perpetuate a fraud against their own communities by saying the land is safe, spending taxpayer money to develop… yes it is criminal. It’s murder in the first degree, no other way to put it. They are deliberately and intentionally contaminating hundreds and thousands of people without any warning of the possible dangers, to me that is and always will be MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE… and God help any of these people should this ever come to court and I’m selected as a juror, that’s precisely how I would vote!

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