Archive for October, 2012

Hinkley residents choose PG&E buyout over water-purification system

By Jim Steinberg – Staff Writer Redlands Daily Facts

HINKLEY – When given a choice between an in-home water-purification system and leaving a town made famous because of its toxic water, homeowners chose leaving by better than a two-to-one majority.

On Wednesday – two days after the deadline for residents’ responses, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced the results of several options offered in April to 300 families who reside within a mile of Hinkley’s growing toxic water plume.

The results were:

200 opted for accepting PG&E’s offer to buyout their properties.

70 opted for a whole household replacement system or a deeper well – both paid for by PG&E.

30 opted to stay on bottled water, provided by PG&E.

“A lot of people are really scared,” said Jon Quass, a schoolteacher in Barstow and longtime Hinkley resident.

“For some people this property is all they have and it has been in the family for generations…a lot of them think if they stay they will end up with absolutely nothing,” said Quass, who is among those taking the whole-household water replacement system offered by PG&E.

Those entering the buyout program must sign a legal document, which prohibits them from speaking about the transaction.

“I like it here…I’m not going anywhere,” Quass said. “I have good neighbors and it is quiet. It is good country living.”

In the 1950s and 1960s, before the cancer-causing properties of chromium 6 were known, PG&E workers in the company’s Hinkley natural gas compressor station periodically dumped water laced with the chemical into an unlined pit, where it seeped into the groundwater.

The problem – and its effects – became internationally famous after Erin Brochovich, a legal clerk, focused attention on health issues brought about by the town’s toxic water. Her efforts were depicted in the 2000 movie “Erin Brochovich.”

The plume is now thought to be at least 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.

Hinkley has about 500 households, said Robert Potter, who works on Hinkley issues for Project Navigator, a Brea-based environmental consulting firm.

Project Navigator provides technical advice to a Hinkley citizen’s group, called the Community Advisory Committee.

That such a large number of people have opted for the buyout has raised issues on the longterm survivability of Hinkley.

Ian Webster, Project Navigator’s president, said that “an unfortunate ramification of the overall Hinkley chromium 6 groundwater situation” is that even though a viable water treatment system is available to them, “many folks have just had enough and want out.”

“Hinkley’s survivability as a community is at a tipping point,” Webster said.

Larry Notario, principal of Hinkley Elementary Middle School, said that how the buyouts translate into student losses at the school is something that will be looked at very closely.

The school has just less than 300 students, down from 600 during the 1990s.

He noted, however, that 55 students come to the school from outside the Hinkley area because of its reputation for teaching excellence.

Perhaps that number could grow to help compensate for future losses resulting from the buyout.

But Quass, who has been on the Community Advisory Committee since its inception, said many of the 200 households might ultimately decide not to take the buyout offer.

Lester White, who heads the Community Advisory Committee, said Hinkley residents have been “held hostage” by the chromium 6 plume, which has made houses impossible to sell.

PG&E ended its buyout program on Oct. 15, said Jeff Smith, spokesman.

White said that the recent rapid expansion of the plume’s known boundaries has “brought the community together.”

People who have not been coming to town meetings about the water situation in years are showing up, he said.

“I think the community is savable,” he said.

PG&E’s Smith said that the buyout program is over because the company ultimately wants to restore the quality of life Hinkley had before the chromium 6 plume – not buy out everyone who lives there.

Contact Jim via email or by phone at 909-386-3855.

Source: http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/sanbernardinocounty/ci_21796618/hinkley-residents-choose-pg-amp-e-buyout-over

Hinkley residents choose PG&E buyout over water-purification system

By Jim Steinberg – Staff Writer San Bernardino County Sun

HINKLEY – When given a choice between an in-home water-purification system and leaving a town made famous because of its toxic water, homeowners chose leaving by better than a two-to-one majority.

On Wednesday – two days after the deadline for residents’ responses, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced the results of several options offered in April to 300 families who reside within a mile of Hinkley’s growing toxic water plume.

The results were:

200 opted for accepting PG&E’s offer to buyout their properties.

70 opted for a whole household replacement system or a deeper well – both paid for by PG&E.

30 opted to stay on bottled water, provided by PG&E.

“A lot of people are really scared,” said Jon Quass, a schoolteacher in Barstow and longtime Hinkley resident.

“For some people this property is all they have and it has been in the family for generations…a lot of them think if they stay they will end up with absolutely nothing,” said Quass, who is among those taking the whole-household water replacement system offered by PG&E.

Those entering the buyout program must sign a legal document, which prohibits them from speaking about the transaction.

“I like it here…I’m not going anywhere,” Quass said. “I have good neighbors and it is quiet. It is good country living.”

In the 1950s and 1960s, before the cancer-causing properties of chromium 6 were known, PG&E workers in the company’s Hinkley natural gas compressor station periodically dumped water laced with the chemical into an unlined pit, where it seeped into the groundwater.

The problem – and its effects – became internationally famous after Erin Brochovich, a legal clerk, focused attention on health issues brought about by the town’s toxic water. Her efforts were depicted in the 2000 movie “Erin Brochovich.”

The plume is now thought to be at least 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.

Hinkley has about 500 households, said Robert Potter, who works on Hinkley issues for Project Navigator, a Brea-based environmental consulting firm.

Project Navigator provides technical advice to a Hinkley citizen’s group, called the Community Advisory Committee.

That such a large number of people have opted for the buyout has raised issues on the longterm survivability of Hinkley.

Ian Webster, Project Navigator’s president, said that “an unfortunate ramification of the overall Hinkley chromium 6 groundwater situation” is that even though a viable water treatment system is available to them, “many folks have just had enough and want out.”

“Hinkley’s survivability as a community is at a tipping point,” Webster said.

Larry Notario, principal of Hinkley Elementary Middle School, said that how the buyouts translate into student losses at the school is something that will be looked at very closely.

The school has just less than 300 students, down from 600 during the 1990s.

He noted, however, that 55 students come to the school from outside the Hinkley area because of its reputation for teaching excellence.

Perhaps that number could grow to help compensate for future losses resulting from the buyout.

But Quass, who has been on the Community Advisory Committee since its inception, said many of the 200 households might ultimately decide not to take the buyout offer.

Lester White, who heads the Community Advisory Committee, said Hinkley residents have been “held hostage” by the chromium 6 plume, which has made houses impossible to sell.

PG&E ended its buyout program on Oct. 15, said Jeff Smith, spokesman.

White said that the recent rapid expansion of the plume’s known boundaries has “brought the community together.”

People who have not been coming to town meetings about the water situation in years are showing up, he said.

“I think the community is savable,” he said.

PG&E’s Smith said that the buyout program is over because the company ultimately wants to restore the quality of life Hinkley had before the chromium 6 plume – not buy out everyone who lives there.

Contact Jim via email or by phone at 909-386-3855.

Source: http://www.sbsun.com/ci_21796618/hinkley-residents-choose-pg-amp-e-buyout-over

Erin Brockovich Town Faces Ultimatum

By H. Scott English – The Inquisitr

Hinkley, CA – Residents of Hinkley, California, the polluted desert town made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich, have been given a deadline by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company to either sell their properties to the company or accept a water treatment system provided installed in their house free of charge.

Hinkley was horribly polluted by PG&E with a chemical called Hexavalent Chromium 6. A total of 314 homeowners in Hinkley live within a mile of the plume, which is how the affected area is determined. The homeowners have until the end of the day today to make a decision as to whether they will sell their homes or accept a treatment system.

The town and PG&E have had a rocky relationship since an investigation started by Brockovich, then a law clerk, which found the power company had been dumping toxic chemicals in the ground for decades and caused hundreds of residents to come down with cancer and other related diseases.

In 1997, PG&E agreed to pay $333 million dollars to town residents as compensation and also agreed to do all they could to clean up the town. As of now, residents are up in arms about the cleanup of the pollutants and in the way the company defines the size and scope of the plume.

PG&E spokesman, Jeff Smith, told ABC News:

“We’ve been working with the Hinkley community for a couple of years and are listening to their concerns. This is why we started this offer. In April 2012, we have expanded the eligibility to include 314 homeowners a mile wide from the plume with any presence of chromium levels.”

Residents say that the widening of the area the company has defined as polluted is proof the company is still polluting, while PG&E says that isn’t the case. They have expanded testing looking for areas affected by the plume, which has lead to finding more areas.

Smith said:

“The reason we are finding more contaminated areas is because we are testing in areas that haven’t been tested before and as a result the plume map keeps changing. But PG&E have stopped using the toxins since the 1960s.”

The town is also upset because, in order to clean up the Chromium, the company is using chemicals that are themselves toxic.

Hinkley Resident and Elementary School Principal Larry Notorio said:

“The clean-up of chromium is going on, but we are faced with a new problem, the by-products that result from the clean-up. Now arsenic, manganese, and other pollutants are showing up in our water and these are not being addressed by PG&E. Also, the water fountains at our school have been shut off for a year while PG&E has been supplying us with bottled water.”

PG&E has agreed to buy the homes of those wanting to sell and appraising them based on their value as if they are located in a normal town. Local residents say that they are truly happy that they are valuing the homes on that basis because, in a town as polluted as Hinkley, the homes are basically worthless.

About 60 percent of residents have agreed to sell their homes to PG&E.

Source: http://www.inquisitr.com/366421/erin-brockovich-town-faces-ultimatum/

Erin Brockovich - Hinkley, CAErin Brockovich

Julia Roberts gone but ‘Erin Brockovich’ town still dealing with PG&E

msnNOW.com

The movie “Erin Brockovich” had a happy ending but in real life, residents of Hinkley, Calif. are still dealing with fallout from PG&E’s chemical pollution, a decade later. Today marked the deadline to decide if folks want to sell their homes to the power company, which contaminated their wells with hexavalent chromium 6 decades ago, or allow a water treatment system to be installed at no charge. Pacific Gas & Electric is not appraising the homes based on real market value given the conditions, but there is concern about the town’s dwindling population. Moreover, locals say PG&E has brought new pollutants like arsenic and manganese during the cleanup as products, and reps aren’t addressing it. Come on now, PG&E, does Julia Roberts have to come down there and make another movie? [Source]

Source: http://now.msn.com/hinkley-home-sales-deadline-is-today-for-houses-in-polluted-erin-brockovich-town

Hinkley, CA(Reed Saxon/AP Photo)

Residents of the California town made famous in Erin Brockovich must decide to stay or go

Daily Mail

The small town made famous in the Julia Roberts 2000 hit film Erin Brockovich is back in the news as residents face a deadline today to either sell their homes to the power company or stay and have a water treatment installed at no cost.

So far about 60 per cent of the 314 homeowners of Hinkley, California, who live within a mile of a chromium contaminated plume have decided to move. The rest, according to early reports, have decided to stay.

In the movie Erin Brokovich’ which is based on true events, Roberts plays a hard-bitten, single mom working as a paralegal for a grumpy attorney with a heart of gold. She stumbles upon the fact people are getting sick from a polluting power company and helps successfully sue the corporate behemoth in a class-action lawsuit.

In real life, Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to a $333 million settlement with the town in 1997 after scientists found hexavalent chromium 6 in the local wells, a result of pollution caused by the company.

The clean-up of the pollutant and its by-products remain a contentious issue between Hinkley residents and Pacific Gas & Electric.

‘We’ve been working with the Hinkley community for a couple of years and are listening to their concerns. This is why we started this program,’ PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith told ABC News.

Some residents have said that the expansion of the area admitted by PG&E to be contaminated is an indication that the company is still polluting the area, reports ABC. But Smith said it’s not that the pollutants are spreading, but that the company is spreading its testing.

‘The reason we are finding more contaminated areas is because we are testing in areas that haven’t been tested before and as a result the plume map keeps changing. But PG&E have stopped using the toxins since the 1960s,’ he said.

Now some residents say there’s a new problem: chromium clean-up efforts have generated polluting byproducts including arsenic and manganese.

‘Pollutants are showing up in our water and these are not being addressed by PG&E,” Hinkely Elementary School Principal Larry Notario told ABC News.

‘Also, the water fountains at our school have been shut off for a year while PG&E has been supplying us with bottled water,’ he said.

One leading community activist, Daron Hanks, has decided to end his fight with PG&E and sell his property, according to ABC.

‘We were devastated when we found out that we had chromium in our water. Opting for the buyout was such a difficult decision to make’ Hanks said.

‘My wife’s family had been affected by the pollutants. Members of her family had cancer and Hodgkin’s disease. We don’t want our son to suffer from this.’

Ray Pearce decided against selling.

‘I own both my home and my son’s home and for a total of 20 acres I don’t think PG&E will give me enough to buy this much somewhere else,’ Ray Pearce told ABC News.

‘Besides, I don’t want to leave my place. I was born in this house and I lived here for 57 years. If I wanted to leave I would have left a long time ago.’

As for the value of the properties whose owners have decided to sell, PG&E told ABC News that it is not appraising them based on the conditions at Hinkley, but as though they were in a normal town.

With the buyouts, there are fears that the town’s already small population will dwindle.

In the late 1980s, Hinkley’s population was around 3000, with about 600 kids attending schools, one resident told ABC.

‘Over time, as PG&E bought people out, the student population dwindled to 277 students.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2218766/Residents-California-town-famous-Erin-Brockovich-film-end-day-decide-stay-go.html

Erin Brockovich - Hinkley, CACrusader: Julia Robert (left) as Erin Brockovich and the real Erin Brockovich (right).

PG&E spokesman Jeff SmithPG&E spokesman Jeff Smith.

Agricultural Remediation Unit - Hinkley, CAPacific Gas & Electric field watering equipment sits idle after the company was recently ordered to stop spraying well water contaminated with hexavalent chromium July 19, 2001 in the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley, CA, west of Barstow.

Erin Brockovich’s Town Deadline: Contaminated Homes Must Be Sold

By Shiryn Ghermezian – EnStarz

Residents of Hinkley, Calif., were forced to make a decision whether they wanted to sell their homes by the end of Monday, Oct. 15, to the power company that polluted their town, or stay and accept a new water treatment system put into place at no extra charge to homeowners.

The 314 homeowners who live within a mile of a chromium 6 contaminated plume of groundwater had until the end of the day to take the offer made by Pacific Gas & Electric, according to the Los Angeles Times. PG&E offered to buy out the 314 homeowners. Many have already moved out of the town but for some, it is a hard decision to pick up everything and move their lives somewhere else.

The town, and the chromium pollution scandal, became famous in the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich,” named after a single mother and resident of the town who became a legal assistant helping to bring down the California power company accused of polluting the city’s water supply. Julia Roberts played the lead female role in the true story and won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Brockovich.

Brockovich.com called the public advocate “a modern-day ‘David’ who loves a good brawl with today’s ‘Goliaths.’ “

“She thrives on being the voice for those who don’t know how to yell. She is a rebel. She is a fighter. She is a mother. She is a woman. She is you and me,” the site stated. “The film turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th century icon by showcasing how her dogged persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history.”

The power company agreed to a $333 milllion settlement with the town of Hinkley in 1996. The settlement was handed out and some residents used the money to buy new homes at a safe distance from the toxic plume of chromium. However, in early 2011, reports showed the pollution, which PG&E was required to have cleaned up, had spread again and had seeped into groundwater.

Source: http://www.enstarz.com/articles/8124/20121016/erin-brockovich-town-deadline-contaminated-homes-sold.htm

Hinkley, CA(Photo : Reuters)

Contaminated ‘Erin Brockovich’ Town’s Residents Face Deadline to Sell Homes

By Dina Abou Salem – ABC News

Residents of Hinkley, Calif., are facing a deadline today to decide whether to sell their homes to the power company that polluted their desert town, or stay and accept a water treatment system installed at no charge.

Pacific Gas & Electric is giving the choice to 314 homeowners who live within one mile of a chromium 6 contaminated plume. They have until the end of today to decide.

The contentious relationship between Hinkley and PG&E was sparked after scientists found hexavalent chromium 6 in the local wells, a result of pollution caused by the company’s compressor station, after an investigation sparked by law clerk Erin Brockovich.

The power company agreed to a $333 million settlement with the town in 1997, but the cleanup of the chromium 6 and its pollutant by-products and the efforts to define the areas affected by the plume remain contentious issues between Hinkley residents and PG&E.

“We’ve been working with the Hinkley community for a couple of years and are listening to their concerns. This is why we started this program,” PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith told ABC News.

“In April 2012, we have expanded the eligibility to include 314 homeowners a mile wide from the plume with any presence of chromium levels,” he said.

Some residents have said that the expansion of the area admitted by PG&E to be contaminated is an indication that the company is still polluting the area, but Smith said it’s not that the pollutants are spreading, but that the company is spreading its testing.

“The reason we are finding more contaminated areas is because we are testing in areas that haven’t been tested before and as a result the plume map keeps changing. But PG&E have stopped using the toxins since the 1960s,” he said.

The cleanup itself has been a problem, however, some residents claim, because now new pollutants are plaguing the town.

“The clean-up of chromium is going on, but we are faced with a new problem, the by-products that result from the clean-up. Now arsenic, manganese, and other pollutants are showing up in our water and these are not being addressed by PG&E,” Hinkely Elementary School Principal Larry Notario told ABC News.

“Also, the water fountains at our school have been shut off for a year while PG&E has been supplying us with bottled water,” he said.

Defining the boundaries of the contaminated areas made many residents feel left out.

“I feel that they turned people against each other. Some are included in their program, some aren’t. They really segregated us. I love living here but, like many other people, I fear the unknown,” Theresa Schoffstall, who owns a home in Hinkley and has a business there, Sundance Roof Co., told ABC News.

In spring of 2011, PG&E formed a citizen advisory committee that oversees PG&E’s cleanup of Hinkley’s water supply. One leading community activist, Daron Hanks, has decided to end his fight with PG&E. He opted to sell his property.

“We were devastated when we found out that we had chromium in our water. Opting for the buyout was such a difficult decision to make,” Hanks told ABC News. “My wife’s family had been affected by the pollutants. Members of her family had cancer and Hodgkin’s disease. We don’t want our son to suffer from this.”

As for the value of the properties whose owners have decided to sell, PG&E told ABC News that it is not appraising them based on the conditions at Hinkley, but as though they were in a normal town.

“We are treating the property as if it were in a neighboring town not having problems similar to Hinkley,” Smith said.

“I am in favor of PG&E buying homes. All of our homes are worthless,” Schoffstall said. “I am struggling with selling my home and it has no value now.”

Ray Pearce, his wife Cindy, and their son Randy have water contamination in their neighboring homes, but they decided to opt for the water supply replacement system rather than selling out.

“I own both my home and my son’s home and for a total of 20 acres I don’t think PG&E will give me enough to buy this much somewhere else,” Ray Pearce told ABC News. “Besides, I don’t want to leave my place. I was born in this house and I lived here for 57 years. If I wanted to leave I would have left a long time ago.”

With the buyouts, there are fears that the town’s already small population will dwindle.

“It all started in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In this community of 3,000-ish people we had somewhere between 500 to 600 kids attending. Over time, as PG&E bought people out, the student population dwindled to 277 students,” Notario said.

“The best things about Hinkley is its elementary school,” Banks said. “If the school goes, then Hinkley goes.”

The complete figures of the sales will not be official until the end of the day.

“We do have initial data though,” Smith said. “It is a 60-40 percent, with 60 percent opting to sell their property.”

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/10/hinkley-decides-on-home-sales-to-pge-amid-more-concerns-for-the-future/

Hinkley, CA(Reed Saxon/AP Photo)

Oct 15, 2012 Decision Date Regarding Home Purchase Versus Whole House Water System

Read the latest collection of news articles regarding the Oct. 15 deadline.

Pollution issue divides desert town as deadline nears

Residents of Hinkley, made famous by “Erin Brockovich,” weigh an offer by PG&E to buy homes near chromium-tainted water. Animosity is high between residents wanting to sell and those opting to stay.

By Louis Sahagun – Los Angeles Times

The high desert town of Hinkley is being torn apart, neighbor by neighbor, as homeowners grapple with a plume of carcinogenic pollution made famous by a Hollywood movie.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which is responsible for the pollution, has given homeowners until Monday to decide whether to sell their homes. PG&E has offered to buy out 314 homeowners who live within a mile of the chromium-tainted plume of groundwater.

Those accepting the offer are angering neighbors because the vacated homes are eroding an isolated ranching community of 800 people already edging toward ghost town.

Even worse, in the eyes of some, is that anyone who sells would not participate in legal actions against PG&E, weakening the hand of homeowners who believe a large, united front gives them the best chance of a big payout from a pending lawsuit against the company.

Homeowners who stay put will have a water treatment system installed by PG&E at no charge.

Tensions are playing out in contentious town hall meetings and neighborhoods. Residents who have spoken out in favor of or against the PG&E home purchase plan have become targets of rumors, suspicions and threatening telephone calls.

“That Oct. 15 deadline is chewing on people’s consciences, so they’re confused, scared and making rash decisions,” said Jon Quass, a junior high school teacher and member of an 18-month-old community advisory committee created to help residents resolve issues with one another and the utility.

“I got a spooky call the other day from someone who said, ‘You’re not guaranteed a tomorrow,'” said Quass, who believes he was threatened because he supports PG&E’s option to install a water treatment system.

“I’m not leaving everything I worked so hard for here,” he said. “If I’m the last man standing in Hinkley, so be it.”

The contamination plume, the result of decades of dumping chromium-tainted water into local waste ponds, was at the center of a $333-million settlement in 1997 over illnesses and cancers made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.”

But the contamination continued to spread after that settlement, renewing the community outcry. In 2008, PG&E offered to buy 100 homes on or near the plume. Many residents remained skeptical about the offer, or joined a new round of litigation against PG&E.

A year ago, in a final offer, the utility expanded eligibility to include the 314 properties near the plume, which is two miles long, a mile wide and advancing north at a rate of about a foot a year. Also included were properties with wells showing signs of hexavalent chromium 6, no matter how slight.

So far, PG&E has bought 51 of the homes, most of which were boarded up or torn down and replaced with alfalfa fields. Thirty-four more homes are in escrow and roughly two-thirds of the other homeowners have expressed an interest in selling, the utility said.

“We prefer that people stay and take the water treatment systems,” Denny Boyles, a spokesman for PG&E, said. “We prefer there be a Hinkley.”

Ranchers Tom and Helen Hare, both 79, are not sure that is possible. Property values continue to plummet amid relentless negative publicity.

“Hinkley is ruined,” said Tom Hare as he watched the sun go down on the 26 acres of alfalfa fields and fruit orchards he planted three decades ago.

“I don’t want to leave, but I don’t want to be left holding the bag,” said Hare, who is in talks with PG&E on the sale of his home. “If we stay, will there be a market for our place? Would we end up all by ourselves here?”

The prospect of PG&E buying out so many parcels has raised fears of an exodus that could prompt the Barstow Unified School District to close Hinkley Elementary/Middle School, a California Distinguished School of 277 students. Five years ago, nearly 600 students attended the campus.

Some of Hinkley’s leading community activists have decided it’s time to leave. Among them are Daron Banks, who is negotiating the sale of his 3,800-square-foot home, and his mother-in-law, Roberta Walker, who was the lead plaintiff in the original lawsuit.

That suit gave birth to the 2000 film and brought an Oscar to actress Julia Roberts, who played Brockovich, the legal researcher who developed the case against PG&E.

Walker bought her current hilltop home on the north end of town with a portion of the 1997 lawsuit settlement — slightly less than $1 million — believing that the property was miles away from the contamination and out of harm’s way.

The advance of the plume toward her home is only one of the reasons Walker is negotiating the sale.

“I’ve been getting threatening letters and telephone calls from people who think what I am doing is somehow interfering with their efforts to get all they can from PG&E for their properties,” Walker said. “The community is falling apart. Soon there will be nothing left.”

Quass agrees, up to a point. He plans to buy 10 acres in Hinkley.

“This chapter of Hinkley’s history is over,” he said. “The new chapter will be written by the people who stay.”

Source: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/14/local/la-me-1014-hinkley-buyout-20121014

Hinkley, CAThe desert stretches into the distance from one of the homes in Hinkley that Pacific Gas & Electric has offered to buy because of a plume of polluted groundwater. (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times)

Hinkley residents near deadline

By Jim Steinberg – San Bernardino County Sun Staff Writer

HINKLEY – Hinkley residents are nearing the deadline for their big decision – to stay or not to stay.

Monday is the deadline for some 300 Hinkley families to decide whether to stay in town and accept a whole house water purification system, or related option, from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. or to accept a buyout offer so they can leave.

“It appears that approximately 60 percent of eligible households are pursuing the property purchase option, while the other 40 percent are pursuing a deep deep well, a water treatment system or are choosing to remain on bottle water, Jeff Smith, a PG&E spokesman.

To be eligible for the offer, the property must have a an active domestic well and be located within one mile of the chromium-6 plume. And the domestic well must be tested by PG&E. and found to have detectable amounts of chromium 6.

Hinkley’s contamination resulted from the use of chromium 6 to control algae and rust at PG&E’s pumping station in Hinkley.

In the 1950s and 1960s, before the cancer-causing properties of chromium 6 were known, water laced with the chemical was periodically dumped into an unlined pit, where it seeped into the groundwater.

The plume is now thought to be about six miles long and two miles wide.

Source: http://www.sbsun.com/breakingnews/ci_21762964/hinkley-residents-near-deadline