Erin Brockovich Julia Roberts: Remember the Water Contamination? The Huge Settlement?

Julia Roberts played the curvy, pugnacious blonde, Erin Brockovich, in the movie of the same name. Erin, a small town law clerk at the time, took took Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to court and won a $333 million out-of-court settlement for 600 Hinkley, California residents. The award is believed to be the largest in American history.

Erin Brockovich

Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich

The problem was, PG&E had contaminated the Hinkley water supply and an inordinate number of the less than 2,000 residents were plagued with cancer – brain, lung growths, miscarriages, stroke and even strange rashes. Symptoms ranged from nose bleeds to asthma to breast cysts. At least everyone thought that was the problem:

Today, however, more than a ­decade on from one of the most ­celebrated ‘David and Goliath’ legal battles of recent times, a less flattering assessment is emerging.

Fresh scientific evidence has come to light that casts doubt on Brockovich’s claims that PG&E was ­responsible for the continuing ­legacy of ill-health in Hinkley.

That evidence is contained in a new survey by the California Cancer ­Registry [Loma Linda University, California] and its key, controversial finding that the number of people diagnosed with cancer in the ­Hinkley area between 1996 and 2008 was not only not excessive, but was lower than would normally be expected for a town of its size — 196 cancer cases over the 12-year period of the study, when the statistical expectation for the region was 224.

From the settlement, some residents were paid because they lived near the plant, or as assurance that they would not file a future lawsuit against PG&E.

Professor John Morgan is a professor of epidemiology at Loma Linda University, California. He has been studying cancer in Hinkley for “more than 20 years.” He says he does not blame the people of Hinkley for believing PG&E is responsible for the illness there, but his research puts the theory of water contamination in serious doubt.

‘Apart from anything else, they have been told to believe the ­opposite in a Hollywood movie. But the fact of the matter is that there has never been evidence of a ­“cancer excess” in Hinkley.’

Brockovich reportedly received $2.5 million for her work on the case. It’s not clear where the money came from, but perhaps from the settlement. Apparently, she has pursued similar cases:

Erin Brockovich lives in a six-bedroom, six-bathroom home in an exclusive enclave of the Agoura Hills, midway between Malibu and Los Angeles

Brockovich owns her own environmental consultant business. The link above will take you to the UK Daily Mail where there is much more information on the Hinkley residents involved in the lawsuit.

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  • From the looks of things Brockovich has spent some of that money on herself.
    Is there nothing the environmentalist and the government is not in on nowadays.
    Brockovich must be some smart cookie is all I can say, she knows her way around the system that is for sure. Hollywood does too, in fact they all are actors of sorts good or bad. The green industry and government are playing “we the people” for all it is worth.

  • Well, I will admit that I did like the film.

    But films aren’t necessarily truth — a fact that a lot of people don’t seem to recognize.

  • LOVE YER XXXXX i’m bob dylans greatest bbc radio request writer: cyber-cafe WESTMINSTER LONDON 3 weeks to go to the royal wedding BEATRICE AND DAVID for all i care ???? say…med-gen-nick:

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  • Where Is Erin Brockovich When We Need Her?

    The hydrofracturing (fracking) process, which is used in extracting natural gas from shale and other formations, is polluting the water tables–a gross disregard for the health of the people. The EPA would like to know what chemicals are being pumped into the ground and then get into the water tables, but the energy companies justify keeping that information as a “trade secret,” and the U.S. Congress backs that up. Who is looking out for the people? No one.

    The hype is that the polluting process will yield much-needed natural gas to meet the U.S. needs without depending on foreign oil and will make natural gas less expensive. The real reason for the energy-company excitement is to liquefy the natural gas, and ship it to Japan, China, and Europe for over 3 times the current price in the United States. That is the reason that the U.S. government imposes the embargoes and sanctions on Iran–to keep Iran from supplying the needs of Japan, China, and Europe with its abundant reserves of natural gas.

    After the U.S. energy companies start supplying those foreign countries with liquefied natural gas (LNG), the price of natural gas to U.S. customers will soar because the supplier will then use the justification hype of “supply and demand.” And our government will side with Big Business by doing nothing for the people. So what else is new?

  • You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.