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Sick Marines and Contaminated Water: Questions Surround El Toro Marine Air Base (VIDEO REPORT)Investigative Series with Tim King Salem-News.com
Marines who served here need to know the possible health hazards so they can seek treatment. TCE causes mutations, intestinal disorders and cancer.
(EL TORO, Calif.) - El Toro Marine Air Station used to be the premiere Marine Corps aviation facility on the west coast. It closed in 1999 and is in the midst of big change; a park will soon occupy the land and new homes are being built. But while the politicians move forward and families move into new homes on the former base, contamination in the base's water system from a degreasing chemical is staying off the radar.
Most Marines who served at the El Toro Marine Air Station in Orange. County, California would hardly recognize the place today. Since its closure in 1999, the land that used to be the Irvine Ranch, has been a hotbed of controversy. Many people wanted to see it become a large airport for Orange County, others wanted to see a more public use, and that is where it is heading.
But a group of veterans that growing quickly in number, say El Toro, along with the active Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune on the east coast, is a major TCE contaminant zone. TCE, Trichloroethylene, was a chemical degreaser used to clean the parts off Marine Corps jet fighters.
It is believed that for years, the toxic chemical invaded the water system here.
Marines have died, children have been born with birth defects, and experts like Salem-News.com’s Dr. Phil Leveque, who as a toxicologist had one of the first TCE-related court cases in the U.S., says the effects of this chemical are far reaching.
According to records, the contaminated wells were shut down in 1970, but residue from the poisonous degreaser continued to affect people because it was in the ground.
The group of watchdog Marines bringing the story forward, also say there are eyewitness accounts of many 55 gallon barrels of TCE being buried in a hole here at El Toro.
The base is now incorporated into the city of Irvine.
Irvine’s city council met last night and one of the prime items was the redevelopment of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. The Public Information Officer for Irvine, Louie Gonzales, explained what the city is doing with the property.
The most important thing is for Marines, family members and civilian workers who worked here, to learn of the possible health hazards so they can seek treatment.
TCE causes mutations, intestinal disorders and cancer. The federal government has not performed sufficient outreach to let Marines and former Marines know about the hazards they may face, now or in the future.
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 who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.
Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu
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 23+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide. 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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