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PG&E settles last chromium 6 case

California in Brief | LOS ANGELES

April 04, 2008|From the Associated Press

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will pay $20 million to settle the last in a series of lawsuits that contended it was responsible for poisoning water in the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley, as depicted in the movie "Erin Brockovich."

The agreement finalized last week in Los Angeles involved claims that 104 people were exposed to water that contained chromium 6, a possible carcinogen.

The settlement was the latest involving a series of suits that contended PG&E contaminants sickened hundreds of people in Kings, Riverside and San Bernardino counties from the 1950s through the mid-1980s.

The 2000 movie "Erin Brockovich" was based on a 1996 case that ended with a $333-million settlement on behalf of more than 600 Hinkley residents.

Two years ago, PG&E agreed to pay $295 million to settle other lawsuits involving about 1,100 people.

"It wasn't just the people who lived by the plant who were affected, but everyone living in Hinkley," said Stephen Wainer, an attorney for the defendants.

PG&E spokesman Jon Tremayne said the settlement ends the last remaining lawsuit against the company over chromium 6 pollution in the region.

Tremayne said the chemical was dumped into unlined ponds in the 1950s before anyone knew of potential dangers.

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