Toxin Plagues Brockovich Town, Again
Cancer-causing material spreads through wells
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 10, 2010 8:50 AM CST
This Jan.14, 2005 file photo shows environmental activist Erin Brockovich in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.   (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme, file)
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(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.