Environmental Science M01
June 11, 2005
Erin Brockovich – Fact or Fiction?
“Back in the ‘60’s if PG&E had spent the money to stop the chromium 6 releases, to clean up that area and move to a different type of technology, it would have been worth the $333 million they just had to shell out. It would have been worth everything because it would have saved all those lives. You can’t put a dollar figure on how some of these people suffer today. It’s cruel.” So said Erin Brockovich. Erin Brockovich, was a law office file clerk whose solo investigation shockingly proved that the health of a mass of people who lived in and around Hinckley, California had been dangerously exposed to toxic chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium) coming from a compressor plant owned by PG&E. (Kidd, Parris; Hurd, Lyle. 01 May 2001, Soderbergh. 2000).
It all started out when Erin Brockovich became jobless after a car accident and loses the case in court. Her attorney hires her at her request after feeling much guilt that they had lost the case especially since was penniless and had three small children to support. She stumbles upon a pro bono case involving some medical records that were placed with some real estate files and questions them. At the consent of her boss, she investigates these files further. After a visit to the plaintiff and the water company, she discovers that there has been a cover up involving contaminated water in Hinckley, California which is causing fatal illnesses and deaths among residents and animals. It turns out that PG& E, the world’s largest electric utility company is responsible for dumping huge amounts of chromium 6 (also known as hexavalent chromium) into Hinkley’s main water supply from their cooling towers since 1965. (Soderbergh 2000).
Since gas compression generates heat, the gas and the compressors have to be cooled with circulating water which in turn passes through cooling towers. To keep the cooling towers from...