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Cleanup of Air Station Causing Tension in Tustin

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The generally harmonious relationship between officials of the city and Tustin Marine Corps Helicopter Air Station, who are working toward its closure in 1999, has been strained in recent weeks by disputes over environmental cleanup at the base.

The two groups met recently but failed to reach a consensus. At issue is the 150,000-square-foot Moffett Trench landfill and several other areas in which soil has been subjected to the dumping of jet fuel, solvents, paint thinners and other contaminants over the years.

City officials say the base’s cleanup plans are inadequate.

“We’ve made certain assumptions in preparing our reuse plan,” said Christine Shingleton, assistant city manager. “The method being suggested would prevent us from . . . developing a fourth of the base.”

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Cleanup plans would leave some areas of the 1,600-acre base unsuitable for homes, she said, seriously threatening the city’s million-dollar reuse plan that calls for development of homes, schools, parks, a golf course and commercial areas.

“It flies in the face of the law that says you need to do this,” Shingleton said.

Base officials defended the environmental cleanup plans but added that they will continue to meet with the city to reach an agreement.

Base spokesman Lt. Matt Morgan said that, according to the federal laws which govern base cleanup, “the remediation selected must be protective of human health and the environment . . . and we have proposed an alternative that is protective.”

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A key area of dispute is the Moffett Trench, a capped landfill mostly covered by Jamboree Road. Shingleton said the city needs to have the landfill cleaned up to proceed with its reuse plan, but Morgan said base officials are reluctant to carry out the task.

“When you have a landfill capped and there’s no risk to public, you don’t go in there and disturb the site,” Morgan said.


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