ORANGE COUNTY–Efforts to open more of the closed El Toro Marine Base to the public have hit another snag, as the Navy and county supervisors here argue over liability issues stemming from potential environmental problems at the facility.

Supervisors delayed yet another vote on approving an expanded five-year lease to let the public use the complex yesterday, saying that the Navy is asking the county to shoulder too much liability for possible environment problems. The Navy says it’s typical for public agencies to take responsibility for contamination that worsens or surfaces over the course of such a lease, and that it will ban public use of the old marine base if the county won’t accept the additional liability.<p.The sprawling El Toro facility was closed for military use a few years ago. A relatively small amount of the land has since been opened to the public, and supervisors want to open even more. However, a new lease can't be signed until the liability issues are settled.

Supervisors aren’t scheduled to meet again until next Tuesday, their last scheduled gathering before the current lease expires near the end of this month.

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