Collection to continue
By Joe Nelson Staff Writer
Created: 01/21/2011 09:23:49 PM PST

A water technician began a battery of water tests in the High Desert town of Hinkley on Friday, gathering 13 samples that will be tested for the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6.

Results from the tests, commissioned by environmental and consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, should be available by the end of next week and are part of an effort by Brockovich and her team to determine the size of a contaminated groundwater plume imperiling Hinkley residents.

Brockovich and dozens of Hinkley residents are pushing Pacific Gas and Electric to either quickly clean up the contaminated water or to properly compensate the residents, which includes buying their properties.

About 50 residents signed up to have their wells tested at Brockovich’s expense during a community meeting hosted by Brockovich on Wednesday.

Brockovich was a law clerk in the 1990s when she led the charge in a landmark lawsuit that led to PG&E settling with more than 600 Hinkley residents who accused the utility of contaminating their groundwater and causing their myriad ailments including cancer and lupus. Now, Brockovich has returned to the place that made her famous, advocating for the town residents once again.

Water technician Boris Paspalof said he visited 15 homes between 7 a.m. and noon Friday on Mountain View, Dixie, Salinas, Sonoma and Burnt Tree roads and on Highway 58. He didn’t gather as many samples as he would have liked due to some setbacks, which included freezing weather and a malfunctioning reverse osmosis system at one of the homes.

“I wasn’t able to get the 25 samples I was hoping,” Paspalof said. He said he will do more tests on Sunday, and again on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Once samples are submitted to the lab, analysis usually takes 24 hours. The samples then have to go through a quality control process that takes about a week, Paspalof said.

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