TCE and PCE (trichloroethylene and perchlorethylene) are chemicals that cut through the sooty grease that builds up on military jet fighters. After use, these chemicals were frequently just dumped into the ground, ultimately entering the groundwater aquifers.
Today a "plume" of TCE looms near surface level on the base, and extends underneath the city of Irvine. It goes for miles and the government's answer is to pump the chemical laden water a mile out into the ocean off South Laguna Beach and let the fish deal with it. Local environmental activist Roger Butow, also a former El Toro Marine who has written for Salem-News.com, says it is a deplorable and inexcusable continuation of the same kind of government stewardship that got us into this mess.
Perchlorate, an ingredient from bombs and munitions, is also present and stems from the El Toro ordinance dumps. Also present according to multiple sources, are detectable traces of enriched uranium 225 and also radium 226.
What fifty years of this type of environmental mayhem has led to, is a $14 billion dollar bill for the American taxpayer, according to Orange County resident Bill Turner, who has spent years following and studying the changes at El Toro.
"As a functioning Marine Corps base with all of its infrastructure and its ideal location, El Toro was estimated to be worth about $10 billion," Turner said
In order to close the base, the Marines had to go somewhere. The Navy picked Fightertown USA, the Miramar Naval Air Station, which reportedly had around 400 base housing units, to accommodate El Toro's 2,600 base housing families. Turner says this move cost an estimated $2 billion.
"Of course the Navy had to put the Navy somewhere, so they moved them to Fallon, Nevada, which is nowhere close to the Pacific Fleet." That move? Turner says it was another $2 billion.
So the government closed El Toro, and sold it to Lennar Homes for roughly $650 million. Irvine took over part of the base, and after the people of Orange County seriously debated building an airport on the property, it was decided that the "Great Park Corporation" would build a several hundred acre park for kids to play on, smack dab on top of the polluted base where toxic carcinogenic hazards have led to a long list of Marines suffering horrible diseases.
Irvine city officials also fill the Great Park board, so they are moving ahead with blinders on. It is hard to stomach their utter lack of conscience and apparent will to place money in front of family health. Maybe this is why the entire plan is quickly becoming known as the "Great Pork" project.
You've got some real tigers on your hands Uncle Sam. The Marines are not a good group to mess with and those that are within the ranks of Marines but fail to actually help Marines, are a disgrace to their uniforms. You can't be on both teams, so make up your minds. Esprit de Corps brothers, remember that?
As for Lennar, America's number two homebuilder, they know they can't build houses at El Toro in good faith.
As I ask for more former El Toro Marines to write, I am in possession of hundreds of existing emails. Some served in the base's earlier years and some in the latter, but all say similar things.
The Internet was the one thing Lennar and Irvine didn't expect, at least back when this idea to turn El Toro into a bunch of elaborate and expensive homes was hatched. You need to absorb your losses, taking away the top Marine aviation base on the west coast was bad enough, wasn't it?
Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer
Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.
Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 20+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide with an emphasis on Palestine and Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. Marines. You can write to Tim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)
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