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| Michael P. Ehline

El Toro Marine Base Toxic Drinking Water Cancer Lawyers

Are you a former MCAS El Toro resident? Did you or someone you love get sick or develop cancer while stationed, or working at MCAS El Toro, in Orange County, California? I am attorney Michael Ehline. I am an inactive U.S. Marine, and I used to go to the PX there, where I loved the cool, more relaxed environment of the air wing when compared to the School of Infantry I was attending at the time at Camp Pendleton.

Later, after my father, also a U.S. Marine, died from being exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam police action, I became involved in helping veterans exposed to toxic chemicals. Although he was not a retired El Toro Marine, he was exposed to toxic substances needlessly by the federal government. Now I am leading the fight against volatile organic compounds and synthetic compounds on our military bases, especially Marine Corps Bases. I also co-founded the Paul Ehline Ride to get military veteran bikers involved in the fight against service-related toxic chemical exposure.

Below I will explain the state of law for various veterans’ claims and how to protect your families after a disability or a wrongful death. Don’t look at anything I say as formal legal advice until we have signed an attorney-client relationship, and of course, you are in a state we are licensed to represent you. If we cannot help you, we will certainly make our best efforts to find you someone with a military background, like us, to represent your case, similar to our national law firm.

What Is Toxic El Toro?

The El Toro military base is now a former U.S. Marine Corps Air Station and was located near the community of El Toro, which is close to Irvine, California. It was built in 1942 and fully operational until 1999. Before it was decommissioned, it covered about 4,682 acres and was home to the Marine Corps aviation for the West Coast. This military base was designed to be a Master Jet Station, meaning it handled the largest aircraft available in the United States because of the four runways it had.

Sadly, the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station is one of many military bases and installations throughout the country that have been heavily contaminated with PFAS, and some of these chemicals are highly toxic. While they don’t pose a danger anymore because the base is closed, the people stationed there after 1966 or so were likely exposed to such harmful substances. If you spent time at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and now struggle with one or more diseases that could be related to PFAS exposure, please don’t hesitate to contact our law firm.

What Happened to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station Base?

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Regrettably, the MCAS El Toro left behind it a toxic exposure legacy after it was closed. Primarily, the PFAS concentration within the environment of the base was found to contain 3,826 parts per trillion of the substance. This greatly exceeds the allowable limit of 70 parts per trillion, which is set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Currently, PFOA and PFOS are the most highly-studied chemicals from this PFAS group.

  • “‘We Didn’t Know’: El Toro Veterans Claim Toxic Consequences for Serving – The Los Angeles Times

If there’s only one phrase to describe it, service members who lived it say “toxins El Toro.” This former Air Force Base (Marine Corps) at Irvine was once surrounded by countless dangerous substances and chemicals. Now, the men who served there wonder how their neighbors and family members might be affected by their serious illnesses. These men have suffered from ill conditions for many years. Many people are poverty-stricken and die that way because they never applied to their local Veterans Affairs office to request disability benefits from their employers.

The tragedy that remains at this location doesn’t stop there. The sins are now visited on the families and children of those who served. Among the Marines stationed here was Ray Alkofer.

Ray’s Story

Between 1951 and 1953, Ray worked in Hangar 296 on the California El Toro base, which has been described as Ground Zero for toxic contaminated water and exposure. Like those he served with, Ray was exposed to many hazardous substances.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is among the most virulent and notable and was used as a degreaser on this and other military bases, such as Camp Lejeune. Illnesses linked to TCE include short-term and long-term issues, such as neurological, kidney, and liver damage and various forms of cancer. In fact, TCE has been at the forefront for many personal lawsuits, class action lawsuits, and regulatory battles.

Ray Alkofer said that no one cared about appropriate handling or wearing protective gear. No one knew they were getting exposed, and the men often slept in the hangar to make it easier. Most of his friends got sick and died. Along with them, Ray also passed away in 2011 from Multiple System Atrophy, a very rare neuromuscular disease. In his final days, he was gasping for breath and in a wheelchair feeling “completely useless.”

The level of PFAS on the premises and in the drinking water of MCAS El Toro is much higher than 10 parts per trillion (PFOA) and 40 parts per trillion (PFOS), which is considered the legal limit for California. Therefore, anyone who spent time on the military base is at a higher risk of developing serious health problems, and so are their families.

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What Does the Environmental Protection Agency List as the Contaminants of Concern Lurking on the El Toro MCAS?

In 1990, this military base was listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a superfund site because of the massive contamination extent present there. Primarily, PFAS were the main concerning contaminant lurking on the military base at El Toro. The source was the fire suppressant used, called AFFF. Military trainees and firefighters often used this substance to put out jet fuel and petroleum fires.

Though it was very effective, AFFF has a significant problem because it contains high levels of PFAS. Once they are released into the environment, they don’t break down at all, remaining there forever. Still, the EPA is making efforts to try and clean up this military base, but it takes time.

That’s not the only thing military members have to deal with, though. There are other hazardous substances present on the marine base, which have been located by the EPA. This worsens a person’s degree of exposure to toxins, and the most dangerous agents include:

  • Xylene
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Benzene
  • Toluene
  • Carbon Disulfide
  • Arsenic
  • Styrene
  • Bromoform
  • Aluminum
  • Manganese
  • Beryllium
  • Acetone

The contaminants listed here all have strong links to various cancers, and there were just so many. Therefore, it worsened the toxic exposure that military members received while spending time on the base between 1966 and 1999. Overall, AFFF was used during those periods, and the base was finally closed in 1999.

Therefore, those stationed at El Toro during that time period should keep a close watch on their health and request periodic medical exams to receive timely diagnoses to save their lives. Law firms in Southern California are now starting the fight against Washington and the VA for such contamination.

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What Diseases Can PFAS Exposure Cause?

There are countless health issues that PFAS exposure and other contaminants available on the El Toro base can cause, but the most terrible of them is cancer, which might occur on different body parts and depends on the highest concentration of the chemical and where it’s located. Along with cancer, PFAS exposure can also be responsible for various chronic and acute health problems requiring immediate medical treatment.

Here are all the diseases with a definite connection to PFAS exposure:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Adult Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Liver Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Reproductive Problems
  • Breast Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Birth Defects
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Other Medical Issues
  • Other Cancers

Have you already received one of these diagnoses and were stationed at El Toro? Now is the time to contact Ehline Law Firm because we specialize in these situations and can help you recover appropriate compensation for emotional and physical distress from those liable, including AFFF manufacturers. They knew the contaminants present and allowed it to go on without question.

Military service people and civilian workers may have suffered birth defects and other issues after seeing a TCE plume. Your medical bills should be covered so that you can live without fear of paying them.

Pregnant women stationed at the El Toro base may also have a case if they had babies with health problems. Please call our legal team because you could get compensation on behalf of the child.

(310) 622-8719 Claim Application

Is El Toro a Superfund Site?

Yes, El Toro is now considered a superfund site. It was put on the list in 1990, but the base was not closed until July of 1999. From there, much of the land was sold during a public auction in 2005. This means many more people could have been exposed without knowing it.

A toxic plume of TCE was found in 1985 near the military installation. It spread miles from the base and into Orange County, which is nearby.

What Is a Superfund Site?

The term “superfund” is used by the federal government and is a program that cleans up hazardous waste sites around the nation that are currently uncontrolled.

Why Liver Cancer and Other Medical Issues Might Arise

While degreaser and firefighting products were the primary holders of such contaminants, the question is how they got into the drinking water. The El Toro base was commissioned back in 1943 in California and was the base for service members going to Vietnam and the main aviation facility for the West Coast.

Within the boundaries of the base, the EPA has found at least 25 contaminated sites from four landfills containing liquid and solid waste. As those start to break down, they seep into the groundwater and get into the drinking water for California residents.

While contamination from the chemicals primarily affected those living and working on the base (Marines), the contaminated groundwater gets into the soil and could cause issues with the crops and water sources. Therefore, many people in California are subjected to various illnesses, including pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, and breast cancer.

Something similar happened to the residents and service people of North Carolina with Camp Lejeune.

One of the First Lawsuits

In Long Beach, California, Tim King reported for the Salem-News that a lawsuit was filed in North Carolina about Camp Lejeune over chemicals found in the drinking water.

The Long Beach, California lawyers chose to pursue clients that were injured at El Toro as a result of contamination of the groundwater. More attorneys have focused on this situation and want to offer assistance for compensation because of the issue. See if you’re eligible for disability benefits or compensation because of where you were stationed.

There have been many other military installations around the nation with similar problems. Groundwater contamination remains the primary reason for illness in our service members. Veterans have rights! You are allowed to live life fully after you’ve served. Contact Ehline Law Firm today to get started on receiving disability benefits.

Our Skilled Lawyers Can Assist You in Filing Your Toxic Exposure Claim if You Were Affected after Being Exposed to PFAS

Whether you’re a military member, veteran, or family member of the military, you are likely eligible for compensation if you become ill from the PFAS exposure that happened while you lived at the MCAS in El Toro, California. We encourage you to call our law firm because it’s easier for us to navigate the legal process for you. Our lawyers are ready for you to get in touch. Then, you have to send our legal team your medical and military records for evidence supporting the toxic exposure claim.

We work hard to complete a review of the case to determine if you qualify and should file a claim in California. If you do, we quickly begin preparing things for submission and handle the completion and filing of other appropriate and necessary documents.

While that’s happening in the background, our legal experts perform their own research to find additional proof for the case. After claim submission, it can take up to a few years to finish everything. However, you benefit from a large sum of money because of your diagnosis, which could help you afford quality treatment and healthcare while taking care of other essentials.

Ehline Law Firm in coordination with PEMR is committed to protecting veterans and their rights. Seek appropriate care for any disease you’re suffering from, but make sure to request disability benefits and see if you have a case.

While the El Toro situation is similar to Camp Lejeune, there are differences, and you might be entitled to compensation and support from the government because of what went on.

Request Formal Legal Advice Today from A Law Firm

As a veteran, you expect to serve your country and move on with your life. However, that might be impossible if you were stationed in a city with known chemical usage, such as El Toro. With the soil contamination, many people likely drank the water and became ill with severe health problems that wouldn’t go away.

Now, they’re suffering and might be visiting the VA hospital and fighting for disability benefits. That’s not what the U.S. military is about, and we want to change that. My clients take pride in my military background and know that I work for them. We are all veterans and deserve the best care and assistance possible.

When Washington doesn’t protect you from contamination, our Law Firm does. Please contact us now to see if you qualify!

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