EPA, Navy, State of California, and City of Irvine celebrate facility reuse award winner Marine Corps Air Station El Toro
Today, representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S Navy, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and the City of Irvine recognized the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro as a winner in the EPA’s fifth annual National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Awards.
“Congratulations to the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro for selection as a 2022 National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Award winner,” said Dr. Carlton Waterhouse, EPA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “These awards highlight the hard work and tremendous partnerships needed to address contaminated federal facilities and implement locally driven reuse strategies to safeguard communities and protect the environment.”
Judges for the Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Award select from four categories of contaminated land at federal facilities: (1) Superfund sites; (2) Superfund Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) sites; (3) non-Superfund BRAC sites; and (4) non-Superfund sites. EL Toro was chosen in the Superfund BRAC Award category.
“Cleaning up and returning this closed base to productive reuse has resulted in revitalization and renewed purpose for Irvine and Orange County and represents a model for federal, state, and local collaboration,” said Michael Montgomery, EPA Pacific Southwest Region Director of the Superfund and Emergency Management Division.
Former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was decommissioned as an active base in 1999 under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act. Extensive cleanup efforts have facilitated the transformation of approximately 1,300 acres of the former military base into the Great Park.
“The Great Park demonstrates what we can achieve when all levels of government work together,” said City of Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan. “As we continue working to bring even more amenities to the Great Park, we recognize that none of this would be possible without the collaboration and commitment of the agencies that have helped us restore this site.”
The Great Park is a recreational destination that includes parks and open space, hiking trails, multi-use sport facilities, an art complex, an amphitheater, a water park, and an ice rink. The City of Irvine is developing an overarching Great Park Framework Plan that includes a world-class botanic garden and veteran memorial park; a permanent live music amphitheater; and rehabilitating existing space to facilitate cultural uses including the Flying Leatherneck air and museum concept, the California Fire Museum, and a Children’s Museum.
EPA serves the public by supporting innovative, cost-effective cleanups at federal facilities and the return of those facilities to productive use. The agency assists in the transfer of properties and provides regulatory oversight at many types of Department of Defense sites, including BRAC sites. Because these facilities often encompass hundreds of acres with buildings, roads and other infrastructure, their effective and efficient cleanup and reuse can play a pivotal role in communities’ economic development.