Toxic Soup du Jour

hazmat.jpgEight to 10 years ago, when South Countians, prodded by Irvine, wanted to stop plans for a commercial airport from being built over the soon-to-be abandonded El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, they pointed to studies showing a toxic plume from years of oil, fuel and chemicals spilling onto, running off of and being dumped over the base had leeched into the city of Irvine's ground water, making an airport incompatible as a future use. Yours truly even wrote about it here.

A couple years later, when powerful commercial airport advocates, prodded by John Wayne Airport-impacted Newport Beach, wanted to stop the momentum building for a Great Park at El Toro, they pointed to studies showing a toxic plume from years of oil, fuel and chemicals spilling onto, running off of and being dumped over the base had leeched into the city of Irvine's ground water, making a park incompatible as a future use. My pal Anthony "The Pig" Pignataro even wrote about it here.

In 2003, when it was looking more like a park, and not an airport, was coming to El Toro, Pignataro wrote here about how then-mayor, now-Great Park Corp. Chairman and Irvine City Councilman Larry Agran would say there was or was not contamination on the site depending on which argument best suited his point at the particular time.

When the keys to El Toro were handed over to Irvine in 2005, the toxic soup talk went away. Now it's back, from the most unlikely of sources. Forces opposed to Agran's glad-handing handling of park development report on newsOC.org that the Great Park Corp. is covering up toxic contamination at the future site of homes ringing the park.

This cover-up has not been reported by the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, Irvine Inquirer, the Trichloroethylene Tattler nor even your favorite muckraking alt. weekly. Nope, the news source that broke this story is Financial Times News. Printouts of FTN's "A Toxic Danger: El Toro Base Model, Great Park Caught Up in Massive Cover-Up" began appearing in Irvine mailboxes over the past couple weeks. The newsOC.org site has a link where you can download the story.

But when an item about the story was posted on the South County Redfin real estate blog, commenters began asking who is the Financial Times News. No one could seem to find a link to such a site or publisher of such a media outlet. There is a Financial Times newspaper, of course, but one has to subscribe to access the content, and the paper's fonts don't match up with the printout that was distributed in Irvine.

As folks were still scratching their heads over that one, a reporter from the Oregon-based Salem News showed up in town to stir up the toxic soup. Tim King's Wednesday story, "Sick Marines and Contaminated Water: Questions Surround El Toro Marine Air Base," includes a video and only one very loose connection between Irvine and his readership 968 miles away: Trichloroethylene (TCE), which either is or is not found in unhealthful levels in Irvine's ground water depending on who is doing the testing and spinning. TCE has been detected in Salem's ground water.

The soup thickens.


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