(Los Alamitos, 2/21/2013) Once again our Thursday columnist hits on an issue that’s both critical and timely, especially just 2 days before this year’s “Race on the Base.”
by “Highlands Guy:”
Over the past couple of years our fair city has put forth a lot of energy and hundreds of billable and volunteer hours to put together the document that will govern much of what we become, as a city, over the next 20 years.
Devastation or Blossoms?
The General Plan is almost complete and ready for presentation to the City Council. The scope is purposefully broad and encompasses many local eventualities, no matter how remote. The General Plan reflects
elements relating to, among other issues, land use, conservation, safety, open space, circulation, noise, housing, and growth management
Currently there are no known changes planned for the Joint Forces Training Base (JFTB), especially via BCRC (Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission).
However, because it is almost as big as the entire ”regular” area of Los Al, its possible future cannot be ignored. Even if changes are 20 years or more away, the impact on our little city could be devastating. . . or could allow us to really bloom.
Housing, a thriving business community, open land for parks and recreation, and traffic flow must all be anticipated, and at least, described, if not planned for. It is important that the General Plan address these issues.
One of the goals of the General Plan is to stretch the thinking about Los Al’s future. Laudable and a positive step up from past administrations. But I would urge the framers to take a step back and look a bit more in depth at our vision for the Base.
If we’re going to put in writing our hopes and dreams, we will be remiss if we ignore the possible adverse consequences of the Base as a long standing toxic waste dump. Once again I consulted the California State Geotracker (environmental data for regulated facilities) to get a glimpse into ongoing concerns. [See "Going Deeper (into the mess beneath our feet)"]
I’ll try to whittle down some of the volumes of data that is available on environmental impacts on the JTFB. Realize that the State information goes back more than two decades. With just a cursory look, I identified:
- 9 ‘military sites’,
- 2 DTSC ongoing cleanup sites
- 1 “permitted underground fuel storage tanks”
- 26 closed sites
I stopped counting the monitoring wells at 100 with some being administered for 20+ years. A little more digging and you can find details about each site. The following is indicative of many I found:
“The two 10,000-gallon USYs were removed on September 9, 2009. Seven confirmation soil samples were collected…The samples were analyzed for volatile organic compounds, total petroleum hydrocarbons as gasoline, diesel, and lead. Tert-butyl alcohol (TBA) was detected in all seven samples…Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) was detected in two samples…and total petroleum hydrocarbon gasoline was detected in two samples…”
The data leads me to the conclusion that there are many areas within the JFTB that still contain environmentally unfriendly waste products. And that governmental alliances at all levels (Federal, State, and County) have not kept current with mandated clean up initiatives.
I can only assume that part of problem is the overlapping controlling agencies and the slow pace, that will continue unless the issue if forced by public demand. Thus I feel it imperative that before the General Plan is presented to the City Council, the portion reflecting on the JFTB needs to address a planned clean up protocol.
“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”
- Ansel Adams (1902-1984). American photographer and environmentalist.
…And that’s just the way I see it.