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The History of El Toro Radiation Exposure to Marines and Vets

What to Do If You’ve Been Exposed

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The Marine Corps deactivated the former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), El Toro, in California in 1999, and the majority of the site was sold at a public auction in 2005.
Ultimate Guide to Understanding El Toro Radiation Exposure

It is now an EPA Superfund site.

From 1969 through 1999, as many as 300 El Toro Marines, and possibly more of the Marine Wing Services Group, were accidentally exposed to radiation while working for the Wing Supply Support Division of MWSG-37, MCAS El Toro.

After WSSD was relocated to another base area, other units moved into the contaminated area. At this point, the number of Marines exposed in Hangar 296’s north mezzanine is unknown.

The administrative area of the hangar, according to Navy contractor Roy F. Weston, had previously been used as a Ra 226 paint room in the 1940s and 1950s. Furthermore, a large portion of the area was discovered to be Class 1 radioactively contaminated or to have the potential to be based on the site’s history.

Feedback from the Marine Air Station

A Navy contractor doing a radiological study of the hangar discovered radiation contamination from a Ra 226 paint room. After a delay of several years, Ra 226, at any dosage, can result in cancer. Requests to assess the hazards of occupational exposure to Ra 226 have not received a response from the Navy.

According to a Navy investigation dated July 2002, due to site history or known contamination over set release limits, parts of the upper and lower north mezzanine of Hangar 296 were deemed to have radioactive contamination or to have the potential for it. The Navy has taken corrective action.

What Caused the Toxic Exposure?

Essentially, the concentration of PFAS in the environment of the military base was found to be 3,826 parts per trillion, which is significantly higher than the permissible limit of 70 parts per trillion set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unfortunately, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA left behind toxic substances after it was closed. The compounds from the PFAS family now being examined the most include PFOS and PFOA.

Other parts of the north mezzanine may or may not be radioactively contaminated depending on the location’s past, although they are not anticipated to exceed Class 2.

Ra 226 has radioactivity that is about a million times greater than uranium of an equivalent mass. To make radio luminescent paint for aircraft gauges and instruments, the Marine Corps and other armed forces combined Ra 226 with zinc sulfide. This allowed aircrews to see the instruments in the dark.

The radiation energy that alpha and/or beta particles have left in the luminescent crystals is what causes the paint to emit light.

They are also well above the PFAS regulatory limits in California, which are 40 parts per trillion for PFOS and 10 parts per trillion for PFOA, on the grounds of Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro.

Because of this, military service members and their families are at a very high risk of becoming very ill after having spent time on this military base.

What Toxic Chemicals Are Lurking on the Marine Corps Air Station – El Toro?

Due to the extreme level of environmental contamination on the property, the military base was designated a Superfund site by the EPA in 1990. The use of AFFF, a fire suppressant, by military firefighters and trainees to put out gasoline and oil fires was the main source of the PFAS deadly contaminants that were present at the Air Station, El Toro.

Despite being quite successful, AFFF has a serious flaw: it contains a lot of PFAS, which, once released into the environment, do not degrade and stay there forever. The EPA is working to clear the military base. 

Other hazardous agents, some of the most deadly of which are listed below, were discovered at Marine Air Station El Toro by the EPA, worsening the degree of toxic exposure among the military personnel stationed there.

  • acetone
  • beryllium
  • manganese
  • aluminum
  • bromoform
  • styrene
  • arsenic
  • carbon disulfide
  • xylene.

Naturally, the amount of hazardous exposure among military personnel who had to spend time there between 1966, when AFFF first began to be used, and 1999, when the military installation was abandoned, was made worse by the presence of so many contaminants, all of which have a significant link to different diseases.

In light of this, if you were assigned to the Marine Corps Station during this time and carried out active duty, we firmly advise you to keep a close eye on your health and to get regular medical checkups because a quick diagnosis could potentially save your life.

What Diseases Can Exposure to PFAS Cause?

There is no VA health care for Marine veterans. The worst health problem that exposure to PFAS and other toxic chemicals found in the Air Station can result in is cancer, which can manifest itself in different places of the body depending on where the chemical concentration is the highest. However, PFAS exposure is also to blame for various acute or chronic health issues that call for immediate medical attention, in addition to cancer.

All of the following killing diseases have a proven link to PFAS exposure:

  • breast cancer
  • lung cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • aplastic anemia
  • cervical cancer
  • birth defects
  • bladder cancer.

Why Liver Cancer and Other Health Problems May Occur

Although degreasers and firefighting supplies were the main sources of these toxins, it is unclear how they ended up in drinking water. The California department, which served as both the principal aviation facility for the West Coast and the base for military members heading to Vietnam, was established back in 1943.

Furthermore, the EPA has discovered at least 25 contaminated sites from four landfills that housed liquid and solid trash inside the base’s borders. As they begin to degrade, they leak into the groundwater and end up in Californians’ drinking water.

While the Marines who lived and worked on the post were largely affected by the toxic chemical contamination, contaminated groundwater seeps into the soil and may have an impact on crops and water sources. As a result, many people in California are susceptible to a variety of diseases, such as breast, testicular, and pancreatic cancer.

The effects of Camp Lejeune marines were similar for the citizens and military service personnel of North Carolina.

Call Ehline Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation

If you were given one of these diagnoses, please get in touch with our legal team. We specialize in hazardous exposure and can easily assist you in obtaining financial compensation from the responsible AFFF manufacturers for your bodily and mental suffering.

Last but not least, if you were a pregnant Marine resident who later gave birth to a kid who had health concerns, you should contact our legal team as well since you may be eligible for compensation on behalf of your child such as a VA disability claim.

We Can Help You

Calling our law office will make it easier for us to guide you through the legal process, so we strongly advise doing so. You can contact our attorneys right now. Then, in order to provide proof of the toxic exposure claim, you must provide our legal staff with copies of your medical and military records.

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Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 596-9642
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