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Students from Eastshore Elementary School in Irvine attending the Catalina Island Marine Institute head for the water at Toyon Bay. During World War II, the site was a training center for the OSS - the precursor of the CIA - and agents there were taught to plant explosives beneath enemy ships. Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.
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Time bombs lurk beneath California, from the Mexican border to the Oregon state line, under hills, valleys and coastlines -- poised to contaminate wells, pollute waterways, jeopardize property values and endanger human lives.
Hundreds of locations already have been polluted, and how much more of the state is at risk, no one really knows.
What is known is that more than 1,000 confirmed and suspected military sites, the largest number in the country, are spread across California, covering 7.5 percent of the state -- an area more than twice the size of Connecticut. Many were abandoned decades ago but may still be contaminated with toxic chemicals, bombs and other munitions or even radioactive waste, a six-month examination by The Sacramento Bee found.