PG&E to form citizen advisory committee on Hinkley water contamination

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Site where Pacific Gas & Electric bought and razed houses in the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley, CA, west of Barstow. The company was found to have polluted the ground water with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium for 30 years.

Pacific Gas & Electric is forming a citizen advisory committee in the Mojave desert town of Hinkley. That committee will help keep an eye on PG&E’s protracted cleanup of Hinkley’s tainted water supply.

The town garnered national attention after scientists found hexavalent chromium-6 seeping into local wells. The chemical is linked to cancer, leukemia and other diseases.

Law clerk Erin Brockovich tied the contamination to a PG&E compressor station. Townspeople won a $333 million lawsuit 15 years ago.

The contamination lingered and numerous cleanup efforts have failed to contain it. PG&E says it wants up to six people to advise and share their concerns with the utility and regional water quality board about future cleanup and containment efforts.

“We already are doing that, that’s why PG&E is forming this board because they don’t like what we’re saying already." That’s Norman Diaz, who’s lived in town a long time. He says he suspects PG&E’s motives.

"They’re gonna try and stop us from getting us to the board by intercepting our complaints.”

Diaz says PG&E should at least let people in Hinkley decide who’ll belong to the committee. The privately-owned utility is recruiting potential members and choosing from that group.

“This is not news to those guys; the only news is they look bad and their reaction is to spend some money and to give the kids some filtered domestic water from Barstow, that’s a better solution to my well problem?! Give me a break.”

Last month, a regional water board said it would impose fines against PG&E over its failure to control the contamination. Erin Brockovich is back in the picture, too – she meets regularly with people in Hinkley to discuss another possible round of legal action.

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