Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMPHC)
United States of America

Purpose of this petition is request the Navy's Public Health Center to evaluate the risks of occupational exposure to TCE and other contaminants at MCAS El Toro, including the El Toro Marine Corps School (ETMS) and to perform a chromosome breakage test (blood test) to confirm radiation exposure.

We, the undersigned, call on the Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center, Occupational Health Department, to address the occupational risks of exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), radionuclides and other contaminants at former MCAS El Toro, including the students, faculty and staff of El Toro Marine Corps School (ETMS) and dependents in base housing.

On January 2, 2009, the Agency of Toxic Substances Registry (ATSDR) advised that only the Navy had the expertise and the authority to evaluate the risks of occupational exposure to contaminants at former MCAS El Toro.

In 1990, MCAS El Toro was placed on EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) primarily because of a plume of toxic waste (primarily TCE) spreading off base several miles which threatened the local water supply.

TCE was used as a degreaser at MCAS El Toro for decades before environmental safe disposal practices were implemented. Industrial activities related to electroplating processes, an abrasive blast unit, parts cleaning tank, vacublast recycling units, battery room, and metal working furnaces contributed to the release of waste.

No usage records were maintained by MCAS El Toro, but the levels of TCE found in the soil gas, soil moisture, and groundwater indicate a high volume of TCE usage. The Navy estimated 8,000 pounds of TCE in the soil and groundwater at El Toro. The City of Irvine’s consultant estimated the amount at 700,000 pounds. The Navy disputes the higher amount. What is not disputed is the fact that the toxic plume cut a path through six of the eight base wells.

At least one screen and likely others constructed at the same time were found in the contaminated shallow aquifer at MCAS El Toro. Even after the award of an early municipal water services contract, MCAS engineering drawings showed five of the six original base wells functioning as part of the base’s water distribution system.

Radium contamination from a former Radium 226 paint room was evident from a Navy Radiological Report on Hangar 296 in July 2002. Areas of the upper and lower north mezzanine were classified as having or had the potential for radioactive contamination based on site history or known contamination above established release limits (Class 1).

Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Bertell, an international environmental epidemiologist, confirmed that the Navy could do a blood test at Oakridge (chromosome breakage test) to determine whether veterans were exposed to radiation at El Toro.

Exposure from ingestion, vapor inhalation, and dermal contact was a risk for Marines, Sailors, and civilian workers at MCAS El Toro, including students, faculty and staff at the El Toro Marine Corps School (ETMS) and dependents in base quarters.

We look forward to hearing from you on this very important issue.

The Exposure to TCE and other VOCs at MCAS El Toro petition to Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMPHC) was written by Robert O'Dowd and is in the category Health at GoPetition.