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| Michael P. Ehline

Were El Toro Marines Deceived Over Toxic Exposure?

The west coast’s primary Marine Corps aviation base was the ‘El Toro Marine Air Station.’ It was shut down in 1999 and is undergoing significant alteration; new dwellings are being constructed, and a park will soon occupy the site. However, a degreasing chemical contamination in the post’s water supply is slipping under the political radar as residents move into new homes on the former base and politicians continue their work.

Most Marines stationed at El Toro Marine Air Station in Orange County, California, today hardly recognize the location.

Are There Toxic Chemicals?

The area where the Irvine Ranch once stood has been the center of debate since its shutdown in 1999. It is moving in that direction because many people wanted it to grow into a sizable airport for Orange County, while others preferred a more public use.

However, a population of veterans that is rapidly expanding, such as El Toro, is a major TCE El Toro contamination zone, as is the active Marine Corps installation Camp Lejeune on the east coast. The Marine Corps employed TCE, or trichloroethylene, a chemical degreaser, to clean the parts of its jet fighters.

Furthermore, the dangerous chemical is said to have entered the water supply for a few years. It, after that, resulted in contaminated soil.

Marines have lost their lives, children have been born with birth defects, and experts claim the effects of this chemical are widespread. One such expert is Salem-Dr.‘s Phil Leveque was a toxicologist involved in one of the earliest TCE-related legal cases in the United States.

What Was Said About the Marine Corps Air Station?

Records show that the hazardous degreaser’s residue was still present in the ground after the contaminated wells were shut down in 1970.

According to the watchdog Marines reporting the incident, there are numerous eyewitness stories of 55-gallon TCE drums being buried in a pit at El Toro.

This base has now been absorbed into Irvine.

The renovation of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, jet fuel, other hazardous substances, and all of the diseases on the West Coast was one of the main topics discussed at the Irvine city council meeting. Louie Gonzales, Irvine’s public information officer, gave a description of the city’s plans for the land.

Furthermore, the most crucial thing is for the Marines, their families, and the civilian employees who worked here to become aware of any potential health risks, so they can seek care under the same protections PACT ACT recipients are receiving.

What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Marine Corps Air Station?

Federal actions are being taken to remediate the site, with the Navy serving as the primary Department of Defense (DoD).

The Installation Restoration Program is a federally funded initiative started by the DoD in 1978 to identify, look into, and manage the migration of hazardous materials at military and other DoD installations, including the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

Furthermore, the 1993 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and Congressional Action, which established special accounts for funding the environmental remediation at closing bases, approved the closure of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Selling a sizable portion of the military base in 2005 helped raise further funds for cleanup.

What Is the Current Site Status by the Environmental Protection Agency?

Several long-term remedial stages are being implemented at this site, focusing on cleaning up the groundwater contamination, finding the origins of soil contamination from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and cleaning up abandoned wastewater treatment tanks and pipes.

In 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency included the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL). The Environmental Protection Agency developed three operable units (OUs) for the site to handle site investigations and cleanup effectively.

Site Investigations and Remedial Design

  • OU-2B and OU-2C Landfills: The planned remedy comprises habitat restoration as well as the capping of four landfills (Sites 2, 3, 5, and 16). At Site 2, capping and habitat restoration are finished, while at Site 17, work is almost finished.

Investigative work has been completed in OU-2C, Anomaly Area 3, and cleanup planning is in progress.

  • OU-3, Site 1: In February 2012, the long-term solution for the tainted groundwater at Sites 1 and 2 was decided upon after research. Planning was done for the cleanup of hazardous explosives, munitions, and polluted soils.
  • OU-2, Site 2 Groundwater: Because the perchlorate plume from Site 1 is found at Site 2, Site 2 groundwater has been connected to Site 1 groundwater. Pilot studies and remedial design work are still being done after the remedy was chosen in February 2012.

Completed Cleanup

OU-1, Site 24 Soil: From May 1999 to September 2000, SVE was used to treat VOC-contaminated soils close to two aircraft hangars. Until it is proven that the groundwater cleanup system is successfully removing any lingering contamination, soil gas and groundwater monitoring wells will continue to be in use. In March 2006, parties ratified a Record of Decision for the region that stated “no further action.”

OU-3B, Sites 7 and 14: In the spring of 2001, parties agreed to a “no further action” Record of Decision for the region.

What Are Dangerous Substances at the Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro?

The military base was classified as a Superfund site by the EPA in 1990 as a result of the significant level of environmental contamination on the property. Essentially, the main source of the fatal PFAS pollutants found at the Air Station, El Toro, was the use of AFFF, a fire extinguisher, by military firemen and trainees to put out gasoline and oil fires.

Despite its popularity, AFFF has a severe drawback: it includes a lot of PFAS, which, once released into the environment, do not dissolve and remain there indefinitely. The EPA is cleaning up the military base.

After that, the EPA found additional dangerous substances at the Marine Air Station, exacerbating the level of toxic exposure among the military personnel stationed there. Some of the worst are mentioned below:

  • toluene
  • beryllium
  • carbon disulfide
  • manganese
  • benzene
  • aluminum
  • bromoform
  • styrene
  • arsenic
  • xylene

Naturally, the presence of so many contaminants made the amount of dangerous exposure among military members who had to spend time there between 1966, when AFFF first began to be used, and 1999, when the military facility was abandoned.

As a result, if you were stationed at the Marine Corps Station at this time and were on active duty, we strongly advise you to keep a close eye on your health and receive regular medical examinations because an early diagnosis could possibly save your life.

What Diseases Can You Get from a PFAS Exposure in MCAS El Toro?

According to several scientific investigations, certain PFAS and hazardous substances may impact various physiological systems. 

Some PFAS accumulate in the body, but not all of them. After exposure stops, some PFAS levels gradually decrease over time. Researchers are looking into the potential health effects of varying PFAS levels over time in the body.

According to human research, exposure to specific PFAS at high concentrations may cause the following:

  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Changes in liver enzymes
  • Breast cancer
  • Decreased vaccine response in children
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
  • Small decreases in infant birth weights
  • Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer

If We Have Been Exposed to PFAS, Should My Family and I Have a Blood Test to Check for It?

Your blood’s concentration of PFAS can be determined by a PFAS blood test. The findings of the test, however, won’t reveal how PFAS will impact your health now or in the future.

Blood testing for PFAS is not a common test provided by physicians or public health agencies.

You can speak with your doctor or other healthcare practitioners if you need or want to know your PFAS blood levels.

Recall that test results only indicate if you have been exposed to PFAS to you and your healthcare practitioner.

Remember that the majority of Americans, particularly PFOS and PFOA, have one or more specific PFAS in their blood.

How Might TOXIC EL TORO Drinking Water Containing PFAS Effect My Pregnancy?

Pregnancy-induced elevated blood pressure has been linked to PFAS exposure at levels over the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory in drinking water. Along with elevated blood pressure, this consequence may also show symptoms of damage to other organ systems, most commonly the liver and kidneys.

If you have been exposed to PFAS or toxic substances, let your doctor know so that they can treat you properly. Regular prenatal care should include checking for excessive blood pressure. Attend all of your prenatal visits, and bring up any health concerns with the doctor or nurse.

If You Were Affected After Being Exposed to PFAS, Our Skilled Lawyers Could Help You File Your Toxic Exposure Claim

Essentially, suppose a person develops an illness due to PFAS exposure while residing at the MCAS in El Toro, California. In that case, they are likely entitled to compensation, regardless of whether they were serving members of the military, El Toro veterans, or family members of the military.

We put a lot of effort into examining a client’s case to decide whether they are eligible and should submit a claim in California. If they do, we start preparing everything for submission and take care of filling out and filing the additional pertinent and necessary paperwork.

While that is going on, our legal professionals conduct their own research for further formal legal advice. After submitting a claim, it can take several years to finish everything. However, because of a client’s diagnosis, they receive a significant amount of money that can help them pay for high-quality care and healthcare while taking care of other necessities.

The Paul Ehline Memorial Ride’s legal team is dedicated to defending veterans’ rights at the Marine Corps Air Station. Any disease you have should be treated as needed, but you should also apply for disability benefits to check if you qualify.

While the circumstances in El Toro are comparable to those in Camp Lejeune, there are certain variances, and you might be eligible for support and compensation from the government as a result of what happened even if you are a retired El Toro marine.

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