Tustin Marine Corps Air Station
MCAS Tustin closed in 1997, as a result of 1991 BRAC decisions. Its heavy helicopter mission transferred to MCAS Miramar; the anticipated noise problems caused by introducing the H-53 into that community have in fact developed. Tustin closed as a result of urban encroachment; as a result, there is little likelihood of the facility serving a significant civil aviation function.
Tustin Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) is located in southern California near the center of Orange County. The installation is approximately 40 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, approximately 100 miles north of the California-Mexico border, and seven miles from MCAS El Toro. The installation occupies approximately 1,383 acres of land, of which approximately 30 percent is currently used for agriculture. The remaining area surrounding the facility is residential and light manufacturing.
Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin was initially established as a Navy lighter-than-air (LTA) base and commissioned in September 1942. The station was used to support observation blimps and personnel that were necessary to conduct antisubmarine patrols off the Southern California coast during World War II. The facility served as an LTA base until June 1949, when it was decommissioned.
With the Korean conflict, the station was reactivated in May 1951, and commissioned as Marine Corps Air Facility Santa Ana. The name was changed to Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter) Santa Ana in September 1969 and finally MCAS Tustin in June of 1985. It was the country's first air facility developed solely for helicopter operations.
MCAS Tustin's facilities include two hangers which are considered the largest unsupported wooden structures in the world. In August 1978, the hangers were designated as national historical landmark. The hangers, built in 1942, at a cost of $2.5 million each, are 1,088 feet long, 178 feet high and 297 feet wide.
MCAS Tustin is located in central Orange County, California, approximately 40 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The station is bordered by the cities of Tustin, Santa Ana, and Irvine. MCAS Tustin encompasses 1,569 acres. About 4,500 residents live on the base and nearly 5,000 military personnel and civilians are employed by the base. In addition to providing military support, MCAS Tustin leases 530 acres to farmers for commercial crop development. For many years, agricultural lands surrounded the facility. However, over the last 20 years, residential and light industrial/manufacturing areas have developed adjacent to the station.
South Orange County California is renowned for its many opportunities. This area provides many career opportunities for the servicemember and family members. Orange County retains a large retiree population. The weather is wonderful. Entertainment possibilities are endless. The local community began with Tustin which was the end of the railroad system and has grown to an area of over 35 cities and countless communities. The base is surrounded by houses,apartments, shopping centers, and industrial complexes. Only a few farms remain.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission of 1991 (BRAC II) recommended MCAS Tustin for partial closure. All of MCAS Tustin was identified for closure by the BRAC III commission. The BRAC Cleanup Team (BCT) was formed in FY93. The BRAC Cleanup Plan (BCP) was last updated in March 1997. An Environmental Baseline survey (EBS) was published April 1994 and in FY98. Identification of uncontaminated or clean parcels is underway, however, draft Findings of Suitability to Transfer (FOST) have been initiated for property where the BCT agreed would be classified as uncontaminated. Draft FOSTs were prepared for eight parcels in FY96. A findings of Suitability to Lease (FOSL) was completed for one hangar building in 1997.
Aviation activities at MCAS Tustin, over the past 50 years, have generated waste oils, paint residues, hydraulic fluid, used batteries, and other wastes. In the past, little was known about the effects of these wastes, and disposal technologies were limited. Some wastes produced at MCAS Tustin were disposed of on site. Recent recognition that these wastes may be harmful to people and the environment has resulted in new laws and regulations governing their disposal operations at MCAS Tustin have changed to comply with new, safer practices, and the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) has been initiated to clean up past disposal sites at MCAS Tustin.
There are 12 sites identified for potential environmental cleanup on the base. Currently, 4 sites are either closed or have a remedy in place. Eight sites are in the study phase. The base is not on the National Priorities List. There is no Federal Facility Site Remediation Agreement (FFSRA) for MCAS Tustin. A Technical Review Committee (TRC) was formed in August 1993 and converted to a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) in FY94. A Community Relations Plan (CRP) was originally prepared in November 1990 and was revised in August 1995. An Information Repository was established at the Main Library of the University of California at Irvine in FY94.
Designated the 'local reuse authority' by the federal government in the conversion of the former MCAS-Tustin to civilian uses, the city of Tustin worked with local and community leaders for almost ten years to devise a plan that benefits all of Orange County. Dozens of public hearings were held and many different requests taken into consideration before the final plan was introduced. The United States Navy - the owner of the property - officially adopted the Reuse Plan in March 2001 with the issuance of their official 'Record of Decision.'
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