PG&E - GROUNDWATER POISONING

 

 

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ERIN'S MOVIES - Brockovich's work in bringing litigation against Pacific Gas and Electric is the focus of the 2000 feature film, Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts in the title role. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing in a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Julia Roberts won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich. Erin Brockovich herself had a cameo role as a waitress named Julia R.

Brockovich has a more extensive role in the 2012 documentary Last Call at the Oasis, which focuses not only on water pollution but also on the overall state of water scarcity as it relates to water policy in the United States. Nice one Erin.

 

 

Working with Edward L. Masry, a lawyer based in Thousand Oaks, California, Erin Brockovich went on to participate in other anti-pollution lawsuits. One suit accused the Whitman Corporation of chromium contamination in Willits, California. Another, which listed 1,200 plaintiffs, alleged contamination near PG&E's Kettleman Hills compressor station in Kings County, California, along the same pipeline as the Hinkley site. The Kettleman suit was settled for $335 million in 2006.

In 2003, Brockovich received settlements of $430,000 from two parties and an undisclosed amount from a third party to settle her lawsuit alleging toxic mold in her Agoura Hills, California, home. After experiencing problems with mold contamination in her own home in the Conejo Valley, Brockovich became a prominent activist and educator in this area as well.

Brockovich assisted in the filing of a lawsuit against Prime Tanning Corp. of St. Joseph, Missouri in April 2009. The lawsuit claims that waste sludge from the production of leather, containing high levels of hexavalent chromium, was distributed to farmers in northwest Missouri to use as fertilizer on their fields. It is believed to be a potential cause of an abnormally high number of brain tumors (70 since 1996) around the town of Cameron, Missouri, which is currently being investigated by the EPA.

In June 2009 Brockovich began investigating a case of contaminated water in Midland, Texas. "Significant amounts" of hexavalent chromium were found in the water of more than 40 homes in the area, some of which have now been fitted with state-monitored filters on their water supply. Brockovich said "The only difference between here and Hinkley is that I saw higher levels here than I saw in Hinkley."

 

 

 


LOS ANGELES (LA) TIMES APRIL 2015

Maneuvering his pickup through this Mojave Desert town, resident Daron Banks pointed at empty lot after empty lot.

"Last time I was here there was a home right here. There was a home here, there was a home here," he said, making his way down the bumpy road in the place made famous by the 2000 film "Erin Brockovich."

Fifteen years after the film showed triumphant residents winning a $333-million settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for contaminating its water and nearly 20 years after the settlement itself Hinkley is emptying out, and those who stay still struggle to find resolution.

For residents, questions remain about the safety of the water, just how much contamination PG&E caused and how to fix it.

This year, a final cleanup plan is moving toward approval. Last month, a long-awaited, five-year study to determine how much contamination PG&E may be responsible for finally got underway.

"At some point in the next few years we're going to get some closure," Banks said.

But today there's little left in Hinkley beyond some scattered homes and acres of alfalfa and other grasses, planted to help clean the contamination.

"You had a great community out here and now it's gone," said resident Roger Killian.

Hinkley was a small farming community in the 1990s when residents learned that groundwater was polluted with chromium 6, a cancer-causing heavy metal. It had seeped into the water after being dumped into unlined ponds at the utility company's compressor station in the 1950s and '60s.

Since then, hundreds of residents have left. Property values dropped because of the stigma surrounding the town, and PG&E launched a buyout program.

 

 

 

 

Roberta Walker, a plaintiff in the original lawsuit and Banks' mother-in-law, said that at the time of the settlement, residents like her believed the plume of contamination was limited to a well-defined area around the compressor station.

But in 2009, PG&E "let it get away from them and it started migrating toward other properties," said Lisa Dernbach, a senior engineering geologist specialist with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the state agency overseeing the cleanup. That resulted in a $3.6-million fine against the company in 2012, she said.

Jeff Smith, a PG&E spokesman, said what looked like growth of the plume was actually the result of additional testing in areas that had previously gone unexamined. Dernbach said the migration happened after the utility changed pumping in some extraction wells.

More recently, the contamination plume appears to have shrunk. Kevin Sullivan, director of chromium remediation for PG&E, said a system installed in 2007 to treat the contamination with injections of ethanol has reduced the chromium by 40%.

 

Starting in 2010, PG&E offered to either provide clean water or buy properties of residents whose wells tested positive for chromium.

Smith said that when the program was announced, there was a high level of anxiety in the community and many residents wanted to sell their properties rather than take the water. The company, he said, wants to see Hinkley thrive.

"I think sometimes it's misconstrued that PG&E wanted to come in and purchase a tremendous amount of land in Hinkley and that was just not the original intent," he said.

Between 2010 and October 2014, when the program was formally discontinued, PG&E purchased about 300 properties, he said.

With residents leaving, the school could no longer be sustained. It shut down two years ago.

The owner of the property that houses the town's post office and only market recently approached PG&E asking to sell and the utility agreed to buy, Smith said. The post office closed last month and the market will soon follow, an employee said.

As residents leave, the cleanup has progressed and technologies have improved. About 250 acres of alfalfa and other grasses now dot the town where some properties once stood and are used to help convert chromium 6 into the micronutrient chromium 3.

 

But despite the progress, many Hinkley residents still worry about how much chromium 6 will remain in the water. PG&E is required to clean up to the levels at which chromium 6 naturally occurs in the groundwater a number known as the background level.

 

 

Governments health warnings car exhausts cause cancer and global warming

 

 

A study commissioned by PG&E a few years ago said chromium 6 naturally occurred in Hinkley groundwater at levels of 3.1 parts per billion.

"Anything above 3.1 provided a lot of anxiety to the people in Hinkley," said Dernbach, of the water control board.

Last year, the state of California set a safe drinking water standard of 10 parts per billion.

Although levels of chromium 6 nearest to the compressor station where no residents remain exceed that by large numbers, PG&E's testing in domestic wells elsewhere in the community shows chromium 6 levels below 10 parts per billion, most often between 0 and 5, Sullivan said.

Smith, the PG&E spokesman, said the state-designated level has helped ease some residents' concerns.

But others say they are disturbed that chromium 6 is showing up in their wells at all. Some say neighbors and family members have suffered ailments they believe were caused by the contamination, leading them to believe that even low chromium levels are dangerous.

 

 

Julia Roberts plays Erin Brockovich in the feature film

 

 

The safe drinking water standard adopted by the state which is hundreds of times greater than a non-enforceable public health goal set by the state Environmental Protection Agency has been criticized as too high by some environmental groups.

For years, residents questioned whether the study commissioned by PG&E putting the background level at 3.1 parts per billion was even accurate.

Banks solicited help from John Izbicki, a U.S. Geological Survey research hydrologist who has studied naturally occurring chromium 6 in the Mojave Desert. With pressure from residents, PG&E acknowledged that its earlier study was lacking. It is paying for a five-year study led by Izbicki that is expected to conclusively determine the background level.

At a community meeting this month (April 2015), fewer than a dozen residents gathered in the Hinkley Community Center to hear Izbicki describe his upcoming study.

Izbicki said water samples would be sent to Germany, Nevada, Virginia, Northern California and other places for testing. Some of it would be handled in the same USGS labs that do testing for NASA.

When he was done, the meeting's facilitator asked longtime resident McHenry Cooke, 81, if he would "trust the data."

"I haven't reviewed it all," he said skeptically.

As the meeting wrapped up, John Turner, who volunteers to keep the community center open, said he felt optimistic about the town's future. For years, community meetings have been filled with negativity, he said, but this one was productive.

He hopes PG&E will play a role in helping to rebuild the community so residents can move forward. "It's time," he said. By Paloma Esquivel

 

Hinkley, California, a town ruined by PG&E chromium pollution

 

 

PETROLEUM AND DIESEL EXHAUST FUMES

 

The automobile makers have done exactly the same. They knew about greenhouse gases but continued to lobby via manufacturers associations and other contributions, for the right to keep making and selling vehicles without any health warning attaching to sales. The only difference is they are polluting the air with carcinogens, not the groundwater, helping to turn planet earth into a desert, not too mention acid oceans, as noxious gases mix with seawater.

 

 

Red flags to prevent global warming by rogue politicians

 

POLITICAL BLOCKERS - In Britain in 1865, the legislative response to the increasing introduction of self-propelled vehicles on our roads was the Locomotive Act (sometimes known as the Red Flag Act). Amongst a number of provisions, it stipulated that self-propelled vehicles needed to be proceeded with a man walking 60 yards ahead carrying a red flag to warn other road users of the vehicles approach. The objective of powerful stakeholders was to hinder progress to protect their investments in horses, carriages and trains. Charles Rolls, of Rolls Royce fame is seen here driving his Peugeot motor car, not at all happy that he could not go any faster because of the idiotic law.

 

 

38 YEARS OF DENIAL - LOCOMOTIVE ACT 1865

 

From 1865, through 1896 through to 1903 and beyond, politicians in the UK used their positions of trust to hinder progress by passing into law the Locomotive Act of 1865, before it was repealed. That is 38 years and more of blocking technology, by the very people who should have been looking to advance technology.

 

The modern cars we rely on today are the product of the Collective Human Brain. We stand on the shoulders of giants and take our conveniences for granted.

 

If it took 38 years for our (then) leaders to recognize the advantages of the motor car, what chance have we got to halt Global Warming?

 

Yup, not much!

 

In the words of Winston Churchill. "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." Get ready then for World War Three. WWIII will be about food and water.

 

Warming of the planet reduces agricultural land to grow crops and raise livestock and fish harvests.

 

As the population grows, we will be unable to feed the billions of humans on the planet.

 

The military in every G20 country know this. They know we are headed to war, and that is why they keep spending buckets of tax dollars on submarines, nuclear missiles, fighter planes, drones and aircraft carriers.

 

You don't have to be  mind reader to see the signs. These are the real life Hunger Games.

 

 

 

 

 

OUR (SUGGESTED) SIX STEPS TOWARD A BETTER PLANET

 

1. TRANSPORT: Phase out polluting vehicles. Governments aim to end the sale of new petrol, and diesel vehicles by 2040 but have no infrastructure plan to support such ambition. Such infrastructure should exceed the performance of fossil fuel filling stations, prolong EV battery life and provide power grids with a measure of load leveling. Any such system should seek to obviate the provision of millions of fast charge points where implementation could prove to be a logistical nightmare. This may involve international agreement as to energy storage format and statute to steer car makers to collaborate in part in a world of competition.

 

Marine transport can be carbon neutral given the right policies, with phased transition in specific stages such as not to unduly penalize present investment in LNG shipping and other recent MARPOL compliant IC powered vessels. Future cargo vessel should be at least in part powered by renewable energy, on the road to zero carbon, making allowances for technology catchup.

 

Air travel powered by kerosene should attract hefty mitigation offset, where low carbon alternatives should be encouraged.

 

2. RENEWABLESRenewable energy should replace carbon-based fuels (coal, oil and gas) in our electricity for homes, factories, heating and transport. Coal and nuclear power plants should be phased out.

 

3. HOUSING: On site micro or macro generation is the best option, starting with new build homes that are both affordable and sustainable by design to replace crumbling housing stocks. Encourage building in timber to provide carbon lock from a renewable natural resource.

 

4. AGRICULTURE: We need to grow more trees to absorb carbon emissions from a growing population, air travel, and to build new homes. We should promote reductions in food waste and eating of foods that use less energy to produce. Educate children on these matters in schools and via campaigns such as no meat Mondays, should be part of ordinary study.

 

5. INDUSTRY: Factories should be aiming for solar heating and onsite renewable energy generation. EV parking and even service facilities should be part of new industrial estates as part of any building permissions.

 

6. POLITICS: - National governing bodies need to adopt rules to eliminate administrative wastages, to include scaling down spending on war machines, increasing spend on educating the public and supporting sustainable social policies that mesh with other cultures. This includes fostering policies and making funds available to close links in the technology chain to make up for lost time. Kleptocratic empire building must cease in the search for natural equilibrium.

 

 

SUSTAINABILITY BEGINS AT HOME

 

What happens on your doorstep is what is happening all over the world. Everyone is empire building, over fishing and dumping waste in our oceans in the belief that a little bit more indulgence won't matter. Yes it will !

 

 

 

 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

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ERIN BROCKOVICH WAS A RESEARCHER IN THE CASE OF HINKLEY AND PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC'S POISOINING OF THE TOWN'S WATER SUPPLY