An Environmental Case

An Environmental Case

Hinckley groundwater contamination is an environmental case that was experienced in California in which allegations stated that Pacific Gas & Electric Company(PG&E) dumped wastewater which was contaminated with chromium-6 (chromium-6 is a well-known carcinogen that has been existing since 1925).  In 1952, a compressor station was established by the company near Hinckley town.  Since then, PG&E has been making use of chromium-6 in its cooling systems as a corrosion inhibitor. Water which was contaminated got discharged into the pools which were unlined. As a result, the contaminated water leaked to the aquifer that was conveying water to the residents of the town. This leakage remained from 1952 to 1972 when PG&E lined the discharging pools (pearl, 2015).

The incident was brought to a permanent end through some interagency interactions. For instance, the government of California played a significant role in 1977 when it came up with a law that was meant to regulate the use of chromium-6. The state also limited the concentration of chromium-6 up to a maximum of 50 µg/L. The reason behind this limitation is because high contents of chromium-6 are capable of causing various types of cancer and also can cause damage to sensitive organs of the body. For instance, Erin got sick after consuming the contaminated water to the point of being hospitalized. The state of California was informed of the high chromium-6 in the underground water north of discharge ponds by PG&E officials. These levels had gone higher ten times the normal levels.  Funny enough, the company started buying properties that got affected by pollution yet they were claiming that the water was suitable for agriculture and other domestic use (Beke, 2014).

Erin Brockovich’s law farm came across the records that were made concerning PG&E offers to buy the properties of Hinckley’s citizens as they were filing those records. Brockovich’s attention was raised by the fact that these documents were mixed up with medical records. The intervention of this agency helped the residents of the town to take legal action against the company. It was established that PG&E knew of the contamination since the year 1965 but did not make any course of action. Although PG&E managed to settle the case down through mediation, it was forced to give a total of 333 million dollars to the plaintiffs so that they could bring the use of chromium-6 to an end and clean the environment.

The caring nature of Brockovich convinced citizens that they were drinking water which was contaminated and there was a need for them to fight the corporation which caused the contamination. In the movie where Julia Roberts played the role of Erin Brockovich, we find a situation where PG&E takes too long to respond to the issue of contaminated groundwater. Only those that were familiar to the results of sustainability challenges and those who knew how critical ethical values were could take chances in doing what they could do to ensure that the solution for water contamination was found. With the help of others who cared about their environmental conditions, it became possible for Brockovich to address the issue of contaminated underground water until she reached a working solution altogether. The government also heard the claims by the people of the town and decided to impose different rules that can assist in settling the issue appropriately (pearl, 2015).



Beke, T. (2014). Background to Litigation Communication in England. In Litigation Communication (pp. 45-86). Springer, Cham.

Pearl, m. (2015). The Town Erin Brockovich Rescued Is a Ghost Town Now. Retrieved from