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.