EPA removes nearly 2,000 acres of El Toro site from Superfund list Reuse, redevelopment planned for land declared clean

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week deleted more than 1,900 acres of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Irvine, Calif. 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.”

“I thank the EPA for its consideration and decision. This announcement is another important step forward in the evolution of the Orange County Great Park and of our efforts to transition the former base into a unique public asset for residents of Irvine and Orange County,” said Jeffrey Lalloway, Chair of the Great Park Board of Directors and Mayor Pro Tem of Irvine.

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.

The EPA is continuing work on the remainder of the El Toro Superfund Site, including operating a groundwater extraction and treatment system, and continued monitoring of capped landfills and groundwater. This delisting, made final on January 21, 2014, comes as part of an ongoing collaboration between the EPA, Navy and State of California established over 20 years ago.

The consideration of future land use is an integral part of the EPA’s Superfund process and gives communities the opportunity to productively use sites following cleanup. Today, reused sites provide economic, environmental and social benefits by supporting virtually every type of land use, from residential, commercial and industrial uses to parks, farmland and public facilities in more than 2000 communities throughout the country.

For more information on the El Toro Superfund Site, please visit: http://epa.gov/region09/eltorousmc

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