EPA removal of 1,900 acres from Superfund list includes proposed site of next IUSD high school

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that more than 1,900 acres of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station — including the planned location for IUSD’s next high school — have been removed from the agency’s list of Superfund sites.

EPA removes nearly 2,000 acres of El Toro site from Superfund listThe move essentially means a vast expanse of the one-time base has been OK’d for use, clearing the way for new development.

Before removing the acreage from its National Priorities List of Superfund sites, the EPA determined that all environmental impacts were thoroughly investigated and that appropriate cleanup actions were taken to protect human health and the environment. Other than periodic reviews, no further steps are necessary, the agency said.

As Superintendent Terry Walker noted in a recent letter to the community, the Irvine Unified School District must open its fifth comprehensive high school by September 2016 to prevent overcrowding at its other high school sites, and the planning process has spanned several years. The district and its developer partners have agreements in place for a 40-acre parcel known as Site A, which sits near the northeast border of the Great Park and is among the nearly 2,000 acres delisted by the EPA. That property still must meet a number of other rigorous guidelines established for school construction, including reviews by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Meanwhile, a member of the Irvine City Council has advocated for an alternative location on the west side of the Great Park – it’s often referred to as Site B — which would have to be purchased from the City for a minimum of $60 million. Though both sites are being evaluated, a preliminary analysis has not revealed any significant advantage to swapping parcels, and only part of Site B has been removed from the EPA’s Superfund list.

For more information on El Toro and the Superfund program, click here.