skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Fracking
Safe Chemicals
Defending the Clean Air Act

Gina Solomon’s Blog

Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water: Welcome News from California

Gina Solomon

Posted July 27, 2011 in Health and the Environment

Tags:
, , , , ,
Share | | |

Today, the State of California took an important step toward protecting people from cancer-causing chromium in drinking water. After a decade of study, public review, meetings, and scientific analysis, the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) released a final Public Health Goal (PHG) for hexavalent chromium.

Anyone who saw the famous movie Erin Brockovich is familiar with 'hex chrome'; it's the known human carcinogen that polluted the town water supply in Hinkley, California and that resulted in the David vs. Goliath fight between sick community members (aided by Erin Brockovich), and PG&E, the polluter.

The real fight raged long after Hollywood moved on to other blockbusters. Polluters successfully spent the past decade using every political maneuver in the book to delay regulations on this chemical. A couple of years ago, they even unsuccessfully attempted to entirely eliminate the arm of Cal/EPA - the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) - that was doing the scientific calculations to set the chromium PHG. The repeated delays mean that California is now seven years past a legal deadline for setting a drinking water standard for this chemical.

The health-based level that was announced today - at 0.02 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water - is not only the most stringent scientific standard in the nation, it's the only such benchmark in the nation. It's really time for the federal government to move forward with their drinking water regulations for this cancer causing chemical.

Today's announcement doesn't mean that the fight is over. Today's health-based level is not a legally enforceable standard. In the next step, the California Department of Public Health must set an enforceable standard (known as a Maximum Contaminant Level, or MCL). This standard must factor in health effects, feasibility of detection, clean-up technologies, and cost. Let's hope this process doesn't take another decade...

At the beginning of this year, I made a New Year's resolution on my blog to do everything possible to get a health-protective, science-based, final PHG in place for this dangerous chemical in 2011. It's great to be able to check one item off that list (thanks to hard work by lots of other people!) But we still need an enforceable standard to assure that everyone in California is protected, and we need a federal standard that will protect vulnerable infants and children nationwide. You'd think that when the science is this clear, the policy would follow, but instead, the fight rages on...

Share | | |

Comments

The PeopleJul 29 2011 04:23 PM

Attn: News Tip
Anderson Cooper [AC360°] CNN http://www.cnn.com/feedback/tips/newstips.html
NBC
CBS
ABC

“OEHHA Adopts First-in-the-Nation Public Health Goal For Hexavalent
Chromium in Drinking Water [07/27/11] By law, CDPH must set the
eventual standard as close to the PHG as economically and technically
feasible.”

Link to OEHHA, for immediate release:
http://oehha.ca.gov/public_info/press/Chrom6_072911.html

“This final public health goal is the culmination of years of study
and research on the health effects of this chemical,” said Dr. George
Alexeeff, OEHHA’s Acting Director. “As the nation’s first official
goal for this contaminant, it will be an important tool that the
Department of Public Health will use to develop a regulatory standard
that will protect Californians from the health risks of chromium 6 in
drinking water.”

“Adoption of the PHG is an important step in the process of ensuring
high-quality drinking water for Californians,” said Dr. Alexeeff “ The
PHG reflects the most recent and definitive scientific research and
demonstrates OEHHA’s commitment to fully assessing the health risks of
hexavalent chromium.”


WHEREAS, the People of Hinkley, County of San Bernardino, State of
California, thereafter response received from OEHHA as sought by:
http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb6/water_issues/projects/pge/docs/oehhamemo071911.pdf
will seek in the California State Superior Court and in the Federal
District Court the infinite just and proper, commencing September 13,
2011, demanding the followings:

Protocols:

[1] Health risk threshold of Cr(VI) in drinking water at 0.02 ppb;
[2] Detection threshold of Cr(VI) in drinking water at between 0.06
ppb and not to exceed 1.00 ppb; and
[3] Amend California Safe Drinking Water Act for Cr(VI) in drinking
waters, by invoking the Regulatory enforcement threshold standard of
not to exceed 1.19 ppb. (ppb implies "parts per billion")

Just and Proper {Aggregate Lis Pendens $1.7 Billion (Class Action and
Specific Lawsuits) }:

A. General Damages Sustained (PG&E, Defendant)
B. Specific Damages Sustained Toxic Tort for 60 years (PG&E, Defendant)
C. Ongoing Damages for the next 40 years duration (Toxic Tort and Lack
of Whole House Water) (PG&E, Defendant)
D. Punitive Damages (PG&E, Defendant)
E. Exemplary Damages (PG&E, Defendant)
F. County of San Bernardino Assessor, Respondent [Refund of Property
Taxes (30 years of taxes)]
G. County of San Bernardino Assessor, Defendant [Intentional Tort and
Disregard of Calamity and Government Codes and Utmost Failure to
Reassess Real Property Values in the town of Hinkley, County
of San Bernardino, State of California, at Zero-Value]
H. County of San Bernardino Tax Collector, Respondent [Refund of
Property Taxes (30 years of taxes)]
I. Mojave Water Agency, Respondent [Refund of Property Taxes (A+B
Taxes) (30 years of taxes)]
J. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA),
California Department of Public Health and U.S. EPA [Joiner] ,
Respondent [Damages Sustained thereafter September 13, 2004 for
Procrastination to Amend California Safe Drinking Water Act for Cr(VI)
in drinking waters, by invoking the Regulatory enforcement threshold
standard of not to exceed 1.19 ppb. (ppb implies "parts per billion")

cc: News media.

Respectfully notified by
The People of Hinkley, California
Tel 909-614-4545
Email: nickpanchev@gmail.com

Comments are closed for this post.

About

Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

Feeds: Stay Plugged In