Spoiler Alert: The 'Erin Brockovich' Proceeding Is Still Going On
By Sara Jerome
California is nearing a key deadline in a proceeding that could slap stricter drinking water regulations on the chemical that made Erin Brockovich a household name.
The state's Department of Health proposed a draft rule last month tightening regulations on hexavalent chromium, or chomium-6, in drinking water, according to The Desert Sun.
The draft rule sets standards for this chemical five times stricter than before, making California the first state in the country to propose such a tough rule on this chemical, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
The process is currently in a public comment period, which will end October 11, culminating in hearings that will take place the same day, according to a release from the state.
"Erin Brockovich," the 2000 film starring Julia Roberts, depicted a grassroots fight against the Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. "The utility was accused of leaking the contaminant into the groundwater of Hinckley, a small desert town, causing health problems," The Sun said.
That fight is still reverberating today. In the latest round of exchanges, the government was pushed into changing the proposed rule by the courts.
"A California Superior Court ordered the agency to propose a drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium [as the result of a lawsuit against the department] for failing to protect millions of Californians from this dangerous toxin," The Natural Resources Defense Council said.
The new rules have a high price tag. “Capital investments needed along with the ongoing costs of operations and maintenance are estimated to be $156 million annually for public water systems to comply with this new standard," the government said in its release.
California has been struggling to keep the chemical out of the water. "State water quality tests conducted between 2000 and 2011 showed that about a third of 7,000 drinking water sources tested had hexavalent chromium levels at or above a preliminary benchmark set by the California EPA," The Epoch Times reported.
Image credit: "Erin Brockovich," © 2012 Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/