Read the full article by Pat Elder (Military Poisons)
“On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, Hangar 1, a massive wooden hangar on the old Tustin Marine Corps Air Station owned by the Navy caught fire and quickly became engulfed in flames that were so hot firefighters decided to let the structure burn.
The building, known as the North Hangar, or Hangar 1, was still sending massive plumes of smoke into the air five days later.
Although concerns about the air quality in the nearby community were raised immediately after the fire erupted on Tuesday morning, it took authorities two days to close schools and issue a state of emergency due to the danger posed by the airborne toxins from the fire, which authorities say include asbestos, lead, arsenic, nickel and other heavy metals.
The entire building was believed to be wrapped in asbestos, although the Navy won’t say. An investigation and assessment of the historic South Hangar, (Hangar 2,) conducted in September 2017 by consultants to the City of Tustin, indicated the presence of asbestos, lead, biological contaminants, and groundwater contaminants which may result in vapor intrusion issues. These same hazardous materials would be assumed to exist within the North Hangar, according to the City’s Grand Jury report, 2019-2020.
Hazardous materials identified in the South Hangar contained: cement asbestos panels over wood framing, cement – asbestos cladding, and translucent corrugated fiberglass panels at skylights.
Several members of Congress wrote to the Navy expressing their deep concern about the environmental impacts of this fire and about the release of pollutants in Tustin and the surrounding areas that could impact the health of residents. They wrote that ash and debris from the fire have poured a toxic dust on residents’ properties and is getting into their homes.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District collected and analyzed air and ash samples which indicate the presence of asbestos as well as heavy metals including lead, arsenic, and nickel. The agency has provided results to the City of Tustin, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the county, but not the general public.
Residents were told not to touch any ash, and to immediately wash any of it off if it falls on their skin, eyes, or mouth.
Still, there’s so much they’re not telling us. See my May 16, 2023 article, Former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin contaminates the Newport Beach region with PFAS as a preface to this piece.
What’s in the smoke?
This figure captures the science of deadly smoke inhalation.
Burning a structure of this magnitude and complexity may generate many thousands of toxic chemicals and gases while modern science hasn’t been able to keep up with the adverse health effects that may result from each.
Imagine all the materials that went up in flames. These likely include plastics, foams, textiles, carpets, wood products (treated lumber, plywood, flooring), asbestos, lead paint, synthetic fabrics, electronics, furniture, household chemicals, etc.
Respiratory ailments, cardiac hazards, and cancers connected with exposures to an environment affected by a fire are far greater than those a generation ago, mainly because the chemical compositions used today to manufacture products and weapons – in the case of the Navy – have changed dramatically. The alarming number of cancers among firefighters and veterans (and their dependents) exposed to deadly chemicals on base tells the story.
Contaminants and their concentrations
in the soil at MCAS Tustin
ProPublica – from DOD data
The deadly mixture of chemicals and gasses contained in the Tustin fire smoke may contain these toxins and many more. The list here was reported by the DOD for soils on base in the concentrations shown here.
Many sites have been declared ‘clean’ by the DOD but are still not safe. Only independent testing – a cry heard from Germany to Japan – can verify levels of contamination at American military bases.
Most of these compounds are classified as human carcinogens by California’s Proposition 65.
Hangar 1 and adjacent areas have been a hotbed of deadly chemical contamination for 80 years, but the secrets have been closely guarded by the Navy which fully understands the threat to human health posed by shuttered structures like this around the world. These toxins cause a host of cancers and have caused immeasurable human suffering and death.
Those who diagnose and treat cancers are heroes in American society but those who attempt to pinpoint their origin are enemies of the state.
We don’t know the extent of the contamination of these chemicals at the Hangar 1 fire, although some of these concentrations are dangerously high, and that makes sense because the Navy has been contaminating the land for so long. The Department of Defense hides this reality from the American public.
We don’t know the extent of the dispersal of these chemicals from the soil and the building resulting from the fire. Certainly, it would be prudent for the city to test for these chemicals, especially in homes, the air, and soils in residential communities downwind. That’s just for starters. If people need medical screening and care, it must be immediately provided.
Suing the Navy is out of the question. The DOD claims ‘sovereign immunity’ in cases involving widespread contamination. That means the military reserves the right to poison American citizens in the name of national security. Communities like Tustin must be called upon to act on behalf of public health concerns. It’s an unjust burden. Jefferson warned of it in the Declaration of Independence.
Figure 10 – Areas of Interest regarding the use of PFAS – Preliminary Assessment/Site Inspection Report, Basewide Investigation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
Although the map above shows what the Navy euphemistically calls ‘AOI’s’ or ‘areas of interest’ regarding the use of PFAS, the illustration identifies the cluster of lethal activites at the site. Some of the contaminants may have gone up in smoke while other toxins may have migrated in surface water or groundwater toward Newport Beach.
AOI 16 is the site of Hangar 1. Clockwise: Oil/water separators create condensed super-contaminated sludge. The Storm drain (AOI 5) carried wastewater out to San Diego Creek. AOI 6 is the burn pit where a host of deadly flmmable poisons were ignited to create flames that were doused in routine practice using carcinogenic foams. Across the installation, hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic, flammable waste were disposed of this way.
AOI 10 is another Oil/Water separator. AOI 8 and AOI 10 are wash areas that likely used cleaners like TCE and PFAS to clean engine parts. AOI 7 was a deep circular pit approximately 40 feet in diameter that was used as a crash crew sump pond. This site was at the end of Hangar. AOI 3 was adjacent to the burnt hangar. It was the Crash Fire Response Area. The adjacent soils are believed to be heavily impacted with PFAS and a host of deadly toxins. Although not shown in this graphic, a hazardous waste storage area was located near the northeastern corner of Hangar 1.
PFAS becomes airborne in fire and people breathe it in.
Hangar 1 contained an elaborate set of fire suppression systems loaded with carcinogenic PFAS foams that were engineered to douse aircraft throughout the 7- acre interior. The AFFF-based fire suppression systems were tested annually in Hangar 1, although the Navy withholds information regarding the amount of PFAS carelessly used. Click on the link below to see this 51 second video showing how quickly a hangar at Edwards AFB fills up with foam.
Imagine six football fields of floorspace covered with 13 feet of foam.
The Tustin City Council’s report described a structure that is 1,088 feet long by 297 feet wide. That totals 323,136 square feet or about 4.5 times larger than the hangar shown in the Edwards AFB video. Hangar 1 and its immediate area was ground zero for PFAS contamination.
Hangar 1 was drenched in PFAS, dating back to the 1970’s. They tested the systems yearly and they experienced accidents. The foams were squirted out to drain into surface water culverts that eventually drained into San Diego Creek southwest of the Station. San Diego Creek empties into upper Newport Bay approximately 5 miles southwest of the Station. If the foams entered the sanitary sewer drain the result was the same – the carcinogens were allowed to drain into the sea and poison everything on the way.
The wastewater treatment plants are contaminated with PFAS from military bases and industrial sites. The sludge is applied on agricultural fields, contaminating food, while the PFAS-tainted liquid effluent poisons the waterways and fish. What’s in your fish, Newport Beach? What’s in your food, Orange County?
The City of Tustin gets it wrong.
The City of Tustin addresses environmental remediation at the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin on its Tustin Legacy website. The script reads like Navy-produced propaganda, especially their treatment of PFAS.
The city makes the outrageous and dangerous claim that the levels of PFAS in the environment do not endanger human life because no one drinks the untreated groundwater.
For the record, total PFAS levels for just 3 compounds were reported at 1,135,500 parts for trillion (ppt) in the groundwater: PFOA (1,010,000 ppt), PFOS (41,900 ppt), and PFBS (83,600). These are ghastly levels. See Table 5-2
The carcinogens poison drinking water, groundwater, surface water, soil, air, birds, invertebrates, fish, dust, and mammals – like us – throughout the region.
This is what the city is saying:
‘PFAS has been found in the shallow groundwater at Tustin Legacy (This is what they call the toxic site.) above the EPA’s “Lifetime Health Advisory”, although there is no known risk to residents of Tustin Legacy since the shallow groundwater at Tustin Legacy is not used for drinking water. The City has found PFAS in soil and groundwater but based on a screening level human health risk evaluation, there is not a known risk to residential or other uses.’
It’s a good thing no one is drinking the groundwater because the PFOA, at 1,010,000 ppt is 252.5 million times above the current EPA advisory. There could be similar levels in other PFAS compounds draining from the site, but the Navy keeps all of that from the public while the city doesn’t seem to mind. More from the city:
‘Scientific studies have shown that ingestion of PFAS over time may be linked to harmful health effects. The most common method of ingestion of PFAS is through contaminated drinking water.’
The city is way off the mark on the two points here. You’d think the state of California would monitor statements like this that may lead to jeopardizing human health. Apparently, the city has too much autonomy in this realm.
In its Proposition 65 warning the state says PFOA is a human carcinogen and that it affects the development of the human fetus.
Most people in California have PFOA in their blood. The state says fish and shellfish can take up PFOA from water contaminated with the chemical and that PFOA can be released into the air and into food and that PFOA settles on floors and other surfaces, accumulating in dust. The European Food Safety Authority says nearly all of the PFAS in our bodies comes from the food, especially the fish we eat.
Many PFAS compounds migrate from dangerously contaminated Navy bases like Tustin and coat the banks of creeks and rivers. When water levels fall, or the tide is low in waters closer to the ocean, the toxins dry in the sun and are lifted by the wind into the air to settle in our lungs and our homes as toxic dust.”…