Toxin Plagues Brockovich Town, Again

Cancer-causing material spreads through wells

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 10, 2010 8:50 AM CST

(Newser) – A toxic plume of chromium continues to trouble the California desert town that Erin Brockovich put on the map—and the pollution is getting worse, reports the AP. High levels of the material, which can cause cancer, have spread through wells near Hinkley. “Because of the widespread nature of the lower concentration chromium, it's difficult to capture the contamination,” said a water quality official.

The chromium came to light in a 1996 court case that saw Pacific Gas & Electric pay some 600 residents $333 million. Erin Brockovich was a legal assistant who found that the company was knowingly polluting the water. In 2008, tests showed another surge; the company stepped in to halt the spread, but tests in March showed that it was growing again; it's now more than two miles long and a mile wide. This week, officials ordered the firm to boost groundwater monitoring. “I don't have unrealistic expectations of them cleaning it, but they darn well ought to stop the migration,” said a resident.

This Jan.14, 2005 file photo shows environmental activist Erin Brockovich in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.   (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme, file)
In this undated film publicity photo originally released by Universal Studios, actress Julia Roberts is shown in a scene from "Erin Brockovich."   (AP Photo/Universal Studios, Bob Marshak, file)
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