ABOUT ERIN BROCKOVICH
Erin Brockovich (June 22, 1960) is an American legal clerk, consumer advocate, and environmental activist, who, despite her lack of education in the law, was instrumental in building a case against Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) involving groundwater contamination in a town in California with the help of attorney Ed Masry in 1993. Since then, Brockovich has become a media personality as well, hosting the TV series Challenge America with Erin Brockovich on ABC and Final Justice on Zone Reality. She is the president of Brockovich Research & Consulting. She also works as a consultant for the New York law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg, which has a focus on personal injury claims for asbestos exposure, and Shine Lawyers in Australia. She worked as a consultant for the now-defunct California law firm Girardi & Keese.
The case (Anderson, et al. v. Pacific Gas & Electric, file BCV 00300) alleged contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium in the town of Hinkley, near Barstow in southern California. At the center of the case was a facility, the Hinkley compressor station, built in 1952 as a part of a natural-gas pipeline connecting to the San Francisco Bay Area. Between 1952 and 1966, PG&E used hexavalent chromium in a cooling tower system to fight corrosion. The waste water was discharged to unlined ponds at the site, and some of the waste water percolated into the groundwater, affecting an area of approximately 2 square miles near the plant. The Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) put the PG&E site under its regulations in 1968.
The case was settled in 1996 for (US) $333 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in United States history to that date. Masry & Vititoe, the law firm for which Brockovich was a legal clerk, received $133.6 million of that settlement, and Brockovich received $2.5 million as part of her fee.
THE CURE TODAY
A study released in 2010 by the California Cancer Registry showed that cancer rates in Hinkley "remained unremarkable from 1988 to 2008". An epidemiologist involved in the study said that the 196 cases of cancer reported during the most recent survey of 1996 through 2008 were fewer than what he would expect based on demographics and the regional rate of cancer.