The Environmental Protection Agency has removed more than 1,900 acres at the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro from the federal Superfund list, a move that should provide a boost to efforts by the city of Irvine and FivePoint Communities to transform the Southern California base into the Orange County Great Park and thousands of homes.
The decision comes after the Navy and local water agencies spent $165 million on soil removal and groundwater treatment to clean up contamination left over from aircraft maintenance and repair, reported the Los Angeles Times. As a consequence, only 600 acres at the 4,700-acre air base remain on the list of the nation’s most hazardous sites.
“It will allow us to move forward with development of the Great Park in an accelerated manner,” said Jeff Lalloway, mayor pro tem of Irvine and chairman of the Great Park board of directors.
To date, only 230 acres of the Great Park have opened to the public, according to the story. The city’s plan calls for converting 1,300 acres at the air station into a public park surrounded by homes and businesses. FivePoint Communities plans to build up to 9,500 homes on 1,200 acres at the park.
“FivePoint is gratified that this major milestone has been completed in the process of returning the former land of El Toro to productive, public use,” Chief Executive Emile Haddad said in a written statement.