Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/11/2013 02:20:17 PM PST
Updated: 01/11/2013 08:52:35 PM PST

View: Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board investigative order

The utility company at the center of this High Desert town’s efforts to clean up a growing toxic plume has been cited for providing bottled water to residents that exceeds levels set by a regional water board, officials said.

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. allegedly provided bottled water to residents that goes beyond the minimum chromium 6 levels required by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Chromium 6 is a cancer-causing heavy metal that has been used in industry.

And it was at the center of Hinkley’s battle with PG&E after years of dumping water tainted with chromium compounds into local waste ponds and ultimately a $333million settlement over illnesses and cancers that the movie “Erin Brockovich” made famous.

The utility has provided bottled water for about 300 Hinkley households and its combined elementary and junior high school.

The water board also cited PG&E for allegedly failing to provide evidence that a whole household water replacement system meets the same chromium 6 standard.

During the 1950s and 1960s, PG&E used chromium 6 to kill algae and protect the metal at its Hinkley natural gas pumping station.

Periodically that water was dumped into unlined ponds where it percolated into the groundwater. It was a common practice before the cancer-causing properties of chromium 6 were known.

The plume of chromium 6 contaminated

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