Chromium 6, a highly toxic chemical, gained tremendous attention by Erin Brockovich and her story of Hinkley, California.
Residents in Hinkley, California had been experiencing a disturbing array of health problems, with no clue as to what might be causing them. We’re talking about problems like liver, heart, respiratory, and reproductive failure, cancer of the brain, kidney, breast, uterus, and gastrointestinal system. There were higher incidences of Hodgkin’s disease and women were having frequent miscarriages.
What the town residents didn’t know was Pacific Gas and Electric had dumped 370 million gallons of wastewater containing toxic Chromium 6, a chemical anti-corrosion agent, into local unlined storage ponds. And, they had been doing it… for decades.
Highly toxic storage ponds like these must be lined to prevent contaminants from leaching into the ground and into the water supply. Since these ponds were not properly lined, Hinkley residents were drinking contaminated water containing Chromium 6 and other toxic compounds for YEARS.
Back in the 1990s, Erin Brockovich investigated this cluster of illnesses and helped PROVE IN COURT that they were caused by Chromium 6. That’s what her Hollywood movie was all about.
After winning a $333 million judgement against Pacific Gas and Electric (the largest of its kind in US history, by the way), she was able to help bring closure to 648 of Hinkley’s residents. I say closure, because you can’t really bring justice to people who’ve lost loved ones, or who became permanently ill.
Incredibly, you would think that this settlement would have prevented further instances of Chromium 6 contamination in our tap water, right?
In fact, the Environmental Working Group reported in 2016 that Chromium 6 has now been detected in the drinking water of 218 million Americans. Yes, that’s a known carcinogen in the water affecting 2/3 of the US population!