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Tustin : Marine Copter Base Gets Extension on Cleanup

A state water quality board learned Friday that winter rains will delay interim cleanup measures of jet-fuel contaminated pits at the Tustin Marine Corps Helicopter Air Station past a May 31 deadline, but the agency decided not to take enforcement action because work was progressing.

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board extended until July 17 the deadline for base officials to complete the work. Additionally, the regulatory board ordered base officials to submit monthly progress reports beginning June 10.

The interim action was intended to prevent seepage of contaminants from the Tustin base into the nearby Peters Canyon flood control channel--which empties into the Upper Newport Bay wildlife reserve--until a full cleanup plan could be undertaken.

Two pits covering four acres on the Tustin base are contaminated with jet-fuel residue to depths equivalent to a seven-story building. The toxic contaminants have migrated underground to the adjacent flood control channel. Fuel was burned in the pits for firefighting exercises from 1970 to 1983.

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The interim measures include lining a stretch of the flood channel with concrete and installing a special drain and collection system at a cost of about $470,000.

A hearing on the full cleanup plan is expected in July, according to staff members of the tri-county water board.


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