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Hinkley groundwater contamination

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Last Updated: 30 October 2020

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It was a sweltering, 117-degree July day in HINKLEY, California. The surface of the 13-mile highway east to Barstow had become asphalt skillet, and towns lone recreational feature, childrens playscape, stands shining and unused like a monument to the lofty melting point of low-density polyethylene. Residents here appreciate the dry, desert landscape. That is why many move to HINKLEY in the first place, but on days like this everyone takes refuge indoors, curtains drawn against the view of empty lots where neighbors ' houses once stand. Along empty roads, thousands of pipe stubs groundwater monitoring wells instal by Pacific Gas and Electric begin to look like air vents to some underground bunker where most everyone in town had retreat. Despite oppressive weather, small group of residents had gathered at the Community Center for a workshop on bioremediation, basically how to remove chemical contamination from their land and water. These workshops are a regular occurrence here and broach topics like isotope analysis, well testing techniques, and best ways to navigate political machinations between oversight organizations. HINKLEY-dwellers interest in these subjects is more based on survival than scientific curiosity; they want to make sure no one can pull wool over their eyes again. HINKLEY is still best known as Erin Brockovich town. In 1996, a group of residents famously won massive direct-action arbitration against Pacific Gas and Electric with the help of Brockovich, savvy single mom and Los Angeles legal clerk. The Utility company was found liable for dumping hexavalent chromium, carcinogen used to suppress rust formation at HINKLEY Gas compressor station, into an unlined pond in the 50s and 60s. Chemical seep into towns ' groundwater. PG & E hid the crisis and misled the community on effects of that specific type of chromium and its possible connection to health problems in town. At the time it was settle, HINKLEY case was the largest payout ever awarded for direct action lawsuit. Environmental advocates laud decision. And of course, story became an Oscar-winning movie starring Julia Roberts. For many people, that is where town story ends. They probably imagine that HINKLEY is now pepper with big houses paid for by plaintiffs ' hefty award. In reality, all that remain in town today is a few clusters of homes, scrapyard, Community Center, dairy, and the infamous PG & E station that connects to the vast natural Gas pipeline system. Erin Brockovichs new book looks at upstream causes of the America water crisis. To call HINKLEY a ghost town would be misleading; ghost towns have abandoned buildings. But PG & E buy most of the homes in HINKLEY on contaminated land and bulldoze them to avoid squatters. Successive rounds of real estate buyouts have reduced the population to less than half of what it was in 2012. Even with ongoing cleanup efforts, hexavalent chromium haunts the town's potential. New residents know Hinkley's history, and those still there fear the ever-present threat of further deception or mismanagement in the remediation process.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Bad blood and good water

HINKLEY, Calif.-Ten days before Christmas 1965, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Station chief Richard Jacobs walked half-block on dusty road line with scraggly creosote shrubs to check out neighbors ' toilet. Jacobs carried with him a secret, something he refers to as chromate problem. Starting in 1952, power company began mixing toxic form of Chromium with water to prevent rust at the new pipeline pumping station in HINKLEY, remote desert community united by a single school and general store. PG & E dumps Chromium-laced water into a pond. Lately there have been reports of problems with neighbors ' wells. PG & E had just drawn greenish water from one well and discovered high levels of Chromium. Now, retired farmer John Speth was complaining of greenish deposits in his toilet bowl. Jacobs takes a look at the bowl but assures Speth that PG & E had nothing to do with it. When I leave Mr. Speth, Jacobs later writes in longhand, he was satisfied but still concerned about his water. Speth died of stomach cancer in 1974. It wasnt until Dec. 7 1987, 22 years after that visit to Speths house that PG & E finally told the local Water Board that it had contaminated underground water. The company claims it had discovered the problem just one week earlier. From here, story is familiar to anyone who saw the hit film Erin Brockovich. Corporate polluters were taken to court. Victims get millions of dollars. Problem solve. But in reality, chromate problem has not gone away. Today, tens of millions of Americans drink Chromium-taint tap water. Yet the controversy over whether people like Speth are dying of cancer from it is still being hotly debate. Some of the most powerful voices in debate are companies with a stake in the outcome. Theyve hired scientists to convince regulators that the chemical compound is safe. The lawsuit that Brockovich championed was merely the beginning of an intriguing tale about corporate manipulation of science. In 2008, National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, published groundbreaking research detailing how mice and rats that drink heavy doses of toxic form of Chromium call Chromium develop cancerous tumors. The findings prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to act. EPA scientists evaluated hundreds of studies and concluded that Chromium likely causes cancer in people who drink it. The agency in 2011 was on the verge of making its scientists ' findings official first step toward forming more stringent clean-Water rules. But last year it bow to pressure and announced it was going to wait for new studies to be paid for by the chemical industry. To lead those studies, American Chemistry Council, industrys main trade Group and lobbyist, hired ToxStrategies Inc., Texas-base firm with scientists ' experience of poking holes in research that links Chromium to cancer. The company describes its business this way on its website: We often interact and collaborate with regulatory, academic and industrial professionals to ensure that the most appropriate science is incorporated into each Assessment.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Putting things right

Roberta Walker knows a thing or two about water contamination in Hinkley, Calif. It was Walker, after all, who handed a box full of research on hexavalent chromium in the city's water to a young legal clerk named Erin Brockovich more than 15 years ago. Walker and Brockovich's successful work tracing contaminant to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Facility led to a $333-million-dollar, class-action settlement in 1996-one of largest of all time-and inspired the 2000 blockbuster movie bearing Brockovich's name. That work also explains why Walker was stunned when another Hinkley resident handed her a similar box last December. Despite the settlement, documents show PG & E has done little to contain the plume of hexavalent chromium, which the US EPA deemed a likely carcinogen in a draft assessment last year. Walker was even more surprised when she looked at where the plume had been detect. Despite moving 7 miles northeast after settlement, plume was only a mile from her new home. Just as before, PG & E began making offers to buy her house. And just as before, PG & E started delivering bottled water every week. And Walker is fighting back, again. She and other Hinkley residents are locked in what appears to be a three-way battle with PG & E and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, chronically underfunded state agency that evaluates and enforces PG & E's cleanup plans. Tensions between parties appear to be escalating. Hinkley residents say PG & E is not cleaning up plume quickly enough and that the Water Board has been far too lenient with utility. Walker is also preparing to file another class-action lawsuit. PG & E, which has endured a string of public relations catastrophes in the past year, charges that some of residents' and the Water Board's recent demand-such as delivering clean water for all residents' need-are unnecessary. In the interview, Brockovich called the situation sad, disappointing, shameful, scary and frustrating. PG & E, she say, had dupe state. Brockovich also points out that the situation in Hinkley raises broader questions about contamination and cleanup. Simply put, if multimillion-dollar settlement and an Academy Award-winning film aren't enough to spur an effective response, what is? This is a huge problem, one that with the economy in such a state that it's in, no one is paying any attention to it, she say. Somehow, some way, we better find some new ways to do business and oversight. Carmela Gonzalez, who handed Walker a box of documents last December, first thought something was wrong when her horses stopped drinking water at her Hinkley property. Gonzalez was familiar with the 1996 settlement, though she was not part of it. She started digging for more information at Water Board and conducted testing of her and her three neighbors' water. The results, she say, surprised her: plume had migrated significantly. Gonzalez took tests to Water Board, and, she say, no one listened to her. She then contacted Walker, hoping she and Brockovich could drum up public support.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Reports of illness

In a 2000 biographical film about a legal clerk who brings a major utility company to its knees for poisoning residents of Hinkley, California, Erin Brockovich ends up on Hollywood high note with a $333m settlement from PG & E. But chromium-6 contamination of Americas Drinking Water is an ongoing battle US Environmental Protection Agency is losing. Nearly 200 million Americans across all 50 states are exposed to unsafe levels of chromium-6 or hexavalent chromium, heavy metal known to cause cancer in animals and humans, according to a new report released Tuesday by nonprofit Research and advocacy organization Environmental Working Group. The water system in this country is overwhelmed and we arent putting enough resources towards this essential resource, Brockovich wrote in an email to the Guardian. We simply cant continue to survive with Toxic Drinking Water. In their analysis of EPAs ' own data collected for the first nationwide test of chromium-6 contamination in US Drinking Water, reports co-authors Dr David Andrews and Bill Walker, senior scientist and managing editor of EWG, find that 12 000 Americans are at risk of getting cancer. Drinking water in Phoenix, Arizona, has the highest concentration of chromium-6 contamination. Of 80 water samples taken across the city-Water serve 1. 5 million people-79 show average concentrations of 7. 853 ppb. California scientists have recommended a public health goal of 0. 02 ppb, but industry pressure lead to adoption in 2014 of the legal safe limit of 10 ppb. More than two-thirds of Americans ' drinking water supply has more chromium than the level that California scientists say is safe-number that has been confirmed by scientists in both New Jersey and North Carolina, according to Walker. Despite this widespread contamination, US currently has no National Drinking Water standard for chromium-6. Dr Andrews say: Part of the reason behind writing this report is really highlight how our regulatory system is break-in its ability to incorporate new science, and its ability to publish and update drinking water standards. Hexavalent chromium is used in a variety of processes: leather tanning, chrome-plating and small cottage industries that use dyes and pigments. But few unleash as much of it into the environment as the electric power industry. In 2009, Electric Power industry report 10. 6m pounds of chromium and chromium compounds were released into the environment, according to the 2011 Earthjustice report. These 10. 6m pounds represents 24% of total chromium and chromium compounds released by all industries in 2009. In 2008, National Toxicology Program, Part of the National Institutes of Health, released a report detailing how cancerous tumors develop in mice and rats that drink heavy doses of chromium-6. According to EWG, based in part on this study, scientists at California Office of Health Hazard Assessment concluded in 2010 that ingestion of tiny amounts of chromium-6 can cause cancer in people. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, advisory, non-regulatory Agency form to oversee hyper-Toxic Superfund sites, reports long term oral exposure to unsafe levels of chromium-6 compounds are associated with gastrointestinal System cancers.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Sources

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

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